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COUNCIL TENANT CITING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE FACES EVICTION

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A council tenant who denies being a wife beater is facing eviction after three top judges ruled against him in a vi...
A council tenant who denies being a wife beater is facing eviction after three top judges ruled against him in a vital human rights test case.

Amrani Kibata was left living alone in a two-bedroom flat after his wife left him in July 2000 and accused him of domestic violence.

Mr Kibata, who has always vehemently denied the accusation, has since June 2001 stayed on at the flat in Newton Point, Clarkson Road, Newham, east London, effectively as a squatter.

He has no right under domestic law to stay in the flat but claimed that to evict him would violate his right to respect for his home, enshrined in Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention.

However, in a ruling which will have major consequences for councils and their tenants nation-wide, Appeal Court judges today ruled Article 8 is 'not available' as a defence to local authority possession actions.

Mr Kibata was given until January 16 next year to vacate the property but was granted a 'stay of execution' pending an expected application to the House of Lords to mount a last-ditch appeal.

Lord Justice Mummery, sitting with the Master of the Rolls, Lord Phillips, and Lord Justice Tuckey, said Mr Kibata's wife, Amina Nkurkiye, had made serious domestic violence accusations after leaving him.

He denied them and, in December last year, a county court judge said the Newham LBC had 'acted in breach of its public law duty' in 'failing to act fairly towards Mr Kibata.'

'It had acted on the wife's allegations of domestic violence, without putting the allegations to him and seeking his response', Lord Justice Mummery told the Appeal Court.

Ms Nkurkiye was re-housed by the council but only after she had signed a notice to quit which effectively terminated her husband's tenancy of the flat on June 18 2001, since when he has remained as a squatter.

Mr Kibata's lawyers argued the council had 'procured' the wife's signature on the notice to quit as a pre-condition of her being re-housed. Sh e had been 'effectively deprived of any other option'.

But, upholding Newham's appeal against an earlier court decision in Mr Kibata's favour, Lord Justice Mummery said: 'There was nothing incompatible with the Convention in the court making an order for possession of the flat.'

Mr Kibata's right to occupy the flat had been 'terminated in accordance with the law' when his wife signed the notice to quit and the judge ruled there was nothing 'exceptional' about the case that brought Article 8 into play.

Mr Kibata was refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords, however he is now expected to petition the Law Lords directly for an appeal hearing.

The possession order against him - which would otherwise take effect on January 16 next year - was 'stayed' pending the expected application to the House of Lords.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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