Peter Gichura wins in court
23 May 2007

Asylum seeker Peter Gichura will be able to stay in the UK to prepare his disability discrimination test case "at least until October", following a hearing in the High Court today. Mr Gichura, a wheelchair user, left Kenya in 2001 fleeing political persecution as a disability activist. His asylum claim was rejected. He presented a fresh claim in 2006 on the grounds that his health had deteriorated and he would not be able to access the healthcare he needs if he were deported, which could lead to his death. The Home Office refused this claim too, but after today Mr Gichura could challenge their refusal.

In February and August 2006, Mr Gichura was detained in Harmondsworth detention centre in appalling conditions: not being able to use the bathroom and toilet properly, painful and threatening body searches and inadequate medical treatment, including being given the wrong medication. After pressure from supporters, he was released and is suing the Home Office and Kalyx, which runs the detention centre.

On Monday, a district judge allowed Mr Gichura to present his case under the Human Rights Act. In addition, the Court of Appeal must decide whether the Disability Discrimination Act is binding on immigration removal centres and prisons before December 2006, when new regulations came in.

Through a public campaign with Payday and WinVisible, based at the Crossroads Women's Centre, Mr Gichura has received widespread support, including from Ken Livingstone. Claire Glasman, from WinVisible said: "A victory in his case would help establish rights and protections for all disabled people."