The interview technique deployed by Council officer, Alison Drake, on Shafia Khatun, now 24, was 'intrinsically unsound' and lacking in 'sympathy', Deputy Judge Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC, said. And he went on to quash the Borough Council's decision on September 18 last year that Mrs Khatun was 'intentionally homeless' and thus not entitled to permanent housing at public expense.
The judge said Mrs Khatun was a married mother of a girl aged seven and younger twin boys who came to Britain from Bangladesh eight years ago. In June 1990 she went to stay with her parents in Bangladesh 'ostensibly for a six month holiday', but stayed for two years. On her return she stayed with her parents-in- law in Thorne House, London E14 but soon applied to the council for housing, stating that the home was overcrowded and she had been asked to leave.
On June 15 last year the Council provided her with temporary bed and breakfast accommodation. But, on September 18, the Council decided she had voluntarily left 'settled accommodation' in Bangladesh and was thus 'intentionally homeless', the judge said.
The judge said Tower Hamlets officers interviewing homeless persons, 'will be aware of the acute housing shortage in the borough - the inadequacy of housing stock for which there is intense competition and unrequited expectation among homeless persons.
As a matter or practise, local authorities should give applicants ample opportunity to have present at interviews someone to advise and assist them, perhaps through local law centres, the judge added. Its decision quashed, the Borough Council must now reconsider Mrs Khatun's application for a permanent home.