Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets was guilty of 'much unfairness' in its handling of the case of a homeless Bangl...
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets was guilty of 'much unfairness' in its handling of the case of a homeless Bangladeshi mother-of-three, a judge ruled in London's High Court.

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.

It was that decision Mrs Khatun challenged by way of Judicial Review. The judge said: 'the inevitable disparity in the level of understanding between local government officers and a homeless applicant lies at the heart of the problem in this Judicial Review'.

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.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.