Court of Appeal will hear visa appeal

Campaign News | Friday, 16 January 2015

The appeal for René González's visa continues

René González, the first of the Miami Five to be freed has been denied a visa to visit Britain on two occasions. The first, in March 2014, when he was invited as a key witness to the International Commission of Inquiry in London. He was again denied, in September 2014, after he was invited by 28 Members of Parliament to attend meetings at the House of Commons.

Despite numerous letters in support of his visit from leading trade unionists and parliamentarians, the British government has so far opposed all legal appeals to date. In September the court again refused to grant the ‘interim relief’ that would have enabled him to come. However the case was kept live as the Court effectively ‘adjourned’ the hearing and made an Order that the British Government should make written submissions to the Court in response to René’s grounds of appeal.

The Government submitted papers and the lawyers acting on René’s behalf again responded. The Rt Hon Lord Justice Underhill has now reviewed both sets of papers and the court issued its judgement on 13 December 2014.

The judgement is a real breakthrough. It grants permission for the case to be heard at the full Court of Appeal. It recognises the wishes of the MPs to invite him. It opens the door to a full discussion in the court as to the issues around the fairness of the original trial and sentencing and the question of whether this was ‘politically motivated’.

Barrister Mark McDonald from Mansfield Chambers responding to the ruling said: "The recent judgement from Lord Justice Underhill giving Mr González the opportunity to challenge the refusal of his visa by the visa officer before a full Court is a welcome victory. The judgment coincides with the dramatic political developments concerning the relationship between the US and Cuba. It was the prescient intervention of 28 MPs in this appeal that attracted judicial attention and we are grateful for their real and meaningful support. A successful judgment leading to the admission of René González would amount to a significant victory for all those who have campaigned for justice for the Miami 5."

This campaign to obtain a visa for René, and consequently all members of the Miami Five to visit Britain, will continue. While the cost of conducting such a legal case is a real obstacle for CSC, it is essential that we fight on. The ban is not only an embarrassment to the British Government, it is a further attack on the Five themselves, even more so now they are all free and that some have already visited many other countries in Europe. And of course we want to celebrate their freedom with the men here in the UK where so many worked so tirelessly for justice.

CSC is very grateful to the team at Mansfield Chambers and the other lawyers who are helping us with this case.

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