4 Aug 2014

Canberra's new Nauru deal worries lawyer

7:19 am on 4 August 2014

The lawyer for a group of 157 Tamil asylum seekers that were transferred to Nauru at the weekend says he had no idea what was happening.

The group had set sail from India in a bid to seek asylum in Australia in June, but were intercepted by a Customs ship and held at sea for nearly a month before eventually being taken to a remote detention centre in Western Australia.

Australia's Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, told local media on Saturday that he had hoped the asylum seekers would choose to return to India, but acting on legal advice, they all refused.

One of their lawyers, George Newhouse, says this is simply not true and access to his clients has been incredibly restrictive.

"We had indicated to the minister in writing that we were prepared to co-operate. The minister chose not to cooperate, the minister chose to extract these peoples and dump them in a hellhole in the Pacific. If he was serious about his Indian solution he could've worked with us constructively."

George Newhouse says he will probably be taking further action in the Australian court system.