Tim Jones successfully represents Romani Gypsy in fight to live on her own land

Thu, 22 Jan 2015

Timothy Jones, a barrister with No5 Chambers has helped a single of mother of three in her fight for the right to live on her own land.

The High Court today (Wednesday) quashed The Secretary of State’s move to decide Romani Gypsy Charmaine Moore’s planning appeal himself.

Mr Jones, who represented Ms Moore at the judicial review in the High Court, said afterwards that the Secretary of State’s actions amounted to “discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010”.

Ms Moore was backed by the Commission for Equality and Human Rights as intervener.

Ms Moore was refused planning permission to live in a caravan on land she owns in the London borough of Bromley.

She was previously successful in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal in having a planning inspector’s decision quashed. But Ms Moore was back in court today (Wednesday) to challenge a decision by Secretary of State Eric Pickles that he should recover her appeal himself.

Ms Moore was joined in court by a second single mother, Sarah Coates.

In the judement, the High Court held that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government’s conduct in relation to Gypsy and Traveller appeals in the green belt amounted to “unjustified indirect discrimination against Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers”.

Mr Jones said: “We always believed that we had a strong case. Our argument was that the Secretary of State has recovered a disproportionate number of Gypsy and Traveller appeals in the green belt and that his unfavourable treatment of this minority amounts to discrimination.”

Mr Jones said that the consequence of recovery would have been an “unacceptable delay” in hearing an appeal.

Appeals by a planning inspector take up to eight weeks from the inquiry, while an appeal recovered by the Secretary of State can take an additional year.

Mr Jones added: “This huge difference is wholly unacceptable.

“A significant percentage of Gypsies and Travellers have no lawful stopping place and face criminalisation for using traditional stopping places.”

Mr Jones said The Equality and Human Rights Commission made “a huge contribution to the result”.

Judge Mr Justice Gilbart, decided that by recovering appeals against refusal of planning permission, the Secretary of State had occasioned “unreasonable delay” in the processing of the appeals, which was “incompatible with the right to a fair trial” under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Furthermore, the court also held that the Secretary of State had failed to discharge the Public Sector Equality Duty under section 149 fo the Equality Act 2010.

You can download a copy of the Judgment here.

Please click here to view Tim Jones' profile.

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