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Last Updated: Monday, 1 November, 2004, 15:30 GMT
Exile wins fresh housing battle
Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia became a US military base in the 1960s and 1970s
A council has been ordered by the High Court to continue housing a man who was exiled from the island of Diego Garcia when it became a US airbase.

Reigate and Banstead council in Surrey was ordered to provide housing for Nicholas Antoine, 25, pending further hearings over who should bear the cost.

Mr Antoine's is a test case on which the fate of 32 other islanders depends.

He is challenging the government on its refusal to help the exiles, who arrived at Gatwick in the past few weeks.

British passport holders

At the High Court on Monday, Mr Justice Moses urged central and local government to stop arguing over who is responsible for the immigrants.

He said money spent on court litigation would be "far better devoted" to looking after the islanders, who are all British passport holders.

The court heard how the families had lived rough at the airport before being granted temporary bed and breakfast accommodation.

It also heard how 33 of them - including Mr Antoine - who were not classified as being in special need would probably return to the airport if their housing was withdrawn.

'Scrimped and saved'

He said they had "scrimped and saved" for years to afford the airfare from Mauritius, where their families had been forced to move by the UK government when Diego Garcia became a US airbase in the 1960s and 1970s.

"The prospect of their wandering around and gravitating back to Gatwick is not something that any civilised human being can contemplate," he said.

A High Court ruling last Monday ordered Reigate and Banstead Borough Council to provide Mr Antoine with a place to stay until 1 November.

Later in the week, Tony Blair said he feared providing accommodation for Diego Garcians could set a precedent which would lead to funding being expected "across the board".

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




SEE ALSO:
Aiding exiles 'may set precedent'
27 Oct 04  |  Southern Counties
Garcia exile wins housing battle
25 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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