10 Downing Street has responded to a petition (noted on this blog here
) asking the Prime Minister "to drop the [UK government's] appeal against the Chagos islanders' right to go home." It says
[the former Foreign Secretary] decided to seek permission to appeal because our treaty obligations to the United States require the Territory be kept "for the defence needs" of both governments and our 2002 feasibility study came down heavily against the feasibility of resettlement.
The Court Of Appeal's judgment also raised issues of constitutional law of general public importance that, in her view, would adversely affect the effective governance of all British Overseas Territories. This would include confusion in the legal system applied in those Overseas Territories, and potential conflicts between local and English courts. For these reasons, the former Foreign Secretary thought it to be in the public interest that the effect of the Court of Appeal's judgment, even if correct, should be clarified.
Permission to appeal was granted by the House of Lords on condition that the Chagossians' costs were met by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Given the public interest the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband has accepted this condition. The Government expect the case to be heard by the House of Lords in 2008.