High Court allows irrationality challenge against the Secretary of State for Defence

17 May 2023

In its judgment in R (MKA) v Secretary of State for Defence [2023] EWHC 1164 (Admin), the High Court granted an application for judicial review of a decision by the Ministry of Defence (“MoD”) on grounds or irrationality and breach of policy.

The Claimant, MKA, is an Afghan national who worked as a network engineer at British military camps and the British Embassy in Afghanistan. He applied to relocate to the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), in the light of his contribution to the British mission and the risk he now faces from the Taliban as a result. The MoD refused his application, finding that MKA was ineligible for relocation to the UK under ARAP. MKA challenged that refusal in the Administrative Court.

Allowing the claim, Foster J held that the decision “departed from an appropriate standard of public law decision-making … there is a disconnect between the materials produced on the Claimant’s behalf to the decision-maker and the reasoning of the review decision. The reasons show material errors were made and the conclusion cannot be safely justified.

She concluded that “the Claimant succeeds on the basis that the decision is not rationally defensible in that the reasons disclose material errors namely the mischaracterisation and/or ignoring of important material evidence as to the scope and importance of MKA’s contribution and the risks he was running.” The claim also succeeded on the basis that the Defendant misapplied and/or misunderstood his policy.

The MoD will now be required to reconsider the decision.

Nikolaus Grubeck and Alex Littlewood acted for the Claimant, instructed by Erin Alcock of Leigh Day.