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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Garcia exile wins housing battle
Diego Garcians
The group have been left homeless at Gatwick Airport
A man whose family was exiled from Diego Garcia has won the right to stay in the UK while he mounts a legal challenge.

Nicholas Antoine, 25, is being housed until next Monday so that he can launch a legal challenge over the government's refusal to help the islanders.

All of the exiles from the Indian Ocean island hold British passports.

They were made to leave the Chagos Islands by the UK in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for a US airbase.

'Blood on British hands'

High Court judge Mr Justice Silber ordered Reigate and Banstead Borough Council in Surrey to provide Mr Antoine with a place to stay.

The case affects about 40 people who have been staying at Gatiwck's north terminal, since arriving in the UK.

West Sussex County Council has offered shelter and assistance to 10 people from the group, because they have care needs.

Human rights lawyers are hoping the decision will lead to temporary accommodation being offered to all the group, to avoid the expense of a series of High Court cases on the same issue.

Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia became a military base in the 1970s

Lawyers say they also want to seek a judicial review of a decision by Reigate and Banstead council that it did not have a duty to accommodate the islanders, because they were not "habitually resident" in the UK.

After leaving Diego Garcia, most of the islanders went to Mauritius, but were unable to settle and became impoverished.

Their leaders say the British "have blood on their hands" over their plight.

They want the government to waive the "habitual residence" rule to give them a chance to start a new life.

Sir Sydney Kentridge QC, barrister for the islanders, said the removal was "a very sad and by no means creditable episode in British history".

West Sussex County Council has called on the government to help the islanders.




SEE ALSO:
Island's exiles seek court ruling
23 Oct 04  |  Southern Counties
Islanders given longer in hotel
19 Oct 04  |  Southern Counties
Islanders lose fight for housing
12 Oct 04  |  Southern Counties


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