Victim compensation plan rejected in TOEIC scandal

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Posted on February 21, 2024


4 min read

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The TOEIC scandal victims have reopened legal actions against the Home Office, a decade after they were accused of cheating. They are demanding collective compensation for unjustified incarceration and lost wages. 

Representing a group of twenty-three students who have already prevailed in their appeals against the Home Office, Bindmans Law Firm suggested that the claims be consolidated in court, akin to the Windrush compensation plan. 

Theodora Middleton, a public law and Bindmans solicitor, stated that the Home Office has stated that it is “too soon” for a simplified plan and is evaluating each case separately, “which is a much slower process.” 

After a BBC Panorama investigation found that “fake sitters” were being utilized in two test centers to administer the ETS exam required for visa renewals, the Home Office withdraw more than 35,000 student visas in 2014. 

Thousands of students have been demonstrating their innocence for the past ten years, despite the fact that it is evident that incidences of cheating occurred at the test centers allowed by the Home Office.

The documentary “Britain’s Forgotten Immigration Scandal,” which took place ten years ago and resulted in the deportation of at least 2,500 students, has garnered new attention from the media. Furthermore, after being informed that they would be arrested and detained, about 7,200 people departed the nation. 

The victims, who are being represented by Bindmans, are requesting damages for their mental health issues, lost wages, unjust arrests, and false imprisonment. 

“All of our clients have lost years of their lives as a result of being unable to complete their education, racking up massive debt, being made homeless, being detained, being removed, or having to leave,” Middleton stated. 

The stigmatization had a significant negative effect on the clients’ mental health as well as their relationships with friends and family. It’s really difficult to go past the last ten years, even if one’s name has been cleared,” she continued. 

ETS produced evidence that 97% of test takers between 2011 and 2014 were suspected of cheating, a finding that led to harsh criticism of the Home Office’s handling of the incident. 

“There is no denying that there was substantial cheating, but the 97% statistic is absurd. No one questioned it, which is one of the reasons it went so wrong, according to MP Stephen Timms, who has been influencing the Home Office for almost ten years.

According to Timms, “the Home Office held the ridiculous belief that foreigners were likely to be cheaters, which severely damaged the lives of many people.” 

The evidence that ETS used to accuse thousands of overseas students was deemed to be “confused, misleading, incomplete, and unsafe” by a parliamentary inquiry in 2019. 

Since many of the students spoke English well, they saw the test as just another obligation to be fulfilled in order to renew their visa.

Timms claimed that the £1.6 million that ETS paid the Home Office for breach of contract after the crisis was resolved was a “derisory sum” that was never meant to be used to compensate the victims. ETS also requested that the government revoke its Secure English Testing License. 

“When Sajid Javid was Home Secretary in 2018, the Home Office came very close to proposing a mechanism for students to clear their records, but there was a cabinet upheaval and his replacement [Priti Patel] wasn’t interested,” Timms added. 

“We hope to reach an agreement on group management of the claims soon, which should speed things up, considering how long people have already had to wait for justice,” Middleton stated.

“Systemic cheating which was indicative of significant organized fraud was revealed in the 2014 investigation into the abuse of English language testing,” a Home Office spokeswoman told The Guardian. Courts have regularly determined that there was enough evidence to support our course of action.