Appearing in the Independent on Monday 22 June, Cahal Milmo wrote this article about the Supreme Court case.
A ruling which dashed the hopes of former residents of the Chagos Islands to return to the British colony should be quashed after the Government failed for nearly a decade to disclose crucial documents, Britain’s highest court has heard.
A group of islanders who were forced from the Indian Ocean archipelago 40 years ago to make way for an American air base went to the Supreme Court to argue that the Foreign Office wrongly sat on a draft of a 2002 report which discussed the feasibility of a re-settlement of the territory.
The final version of the report formed part of the basis for a ruling six years ago by the House of Lords that a return to the islands would be too precarious and too expensive. The ruling overturned previous court findings that the Chagossians should be allowed to re-settle the remote coral islands, which host a large US base on Diego Garcia.
The islanders and their lawyers, including Amal Clooney, made their way to the Supreme Court after finally obtaining the draft report and arguing that it showed the final version had been significantly changed to back the Government’s claims that a return was impossible.
The islanders allege that the draft document – known as the Phase 2B report – and other papers showed that the report was heavily criticised by the Foreign Office’s own scientific advisor and was significantly changed in its final version after consultation with diplomats.
Edward Fitzgerald QC, for the Chagossians, said the failure to disclose the draft had had a decisive impact on the 2008 House of Lords ruling.
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