Sixteen asylum seekers who crossed the Channel in small boats three years ago have made claims for damages against the Home Office after complaining about their treatment on arrival in England, a High Court judge has heard.

The migrants complained about “unlawful” searches, the confiscation of cell phones and “data extraction,” the “non-return” of “items” or the “damaged return” of possessions, Judge Nicklin said on Tuesday.

Lawyers representing ministers said claims were being disputed.

Mr Justice Nicklin, presiding over a High Court preliminary hearing in Court 13 of the Royal Courts of Justice complex in London, said the case would be reconsidered next year.

The judge said the migrants could not be named in media reports about the case.

He said issues related to the release of names would be reconsidered at another hearing.

A lawyer representing the migrants said they were claiming around £20,000 each.

The (Interior Ministry) confiscated, among other things, their cell phones and any SIM cards and informed them that they had to provide their PIN codes

“Between April 25 and November 6, 2020, the plaintiffs crossed the English Channel in small boats from Calais,” Eric Metcalfe told the judge in a written case outline.

“Upon arrival in the UK, all applicants claimed asylum.

“They were also searched by Home Office officials – in some cases strip-searched.

“Among other things, the (Interior Ministry) confiscated their cell phones and any SIM cards and informed them that they had to provide their PIN codes.”

He added: “In any event, the (Home Office) failed to return the plaintiffs’ phones and SIM cards for several months.”

Mr Metcalfe stated that the applicants received legal aid.

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