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British man unlawfully detained awaiting deportation

A British man has won his case in the Court of Appeal after he was detained for 4 years awaiting deportation to Jamaica

23 May 2014

A British man who was detained for 4 years awaiting deportation to Jamaica has won his legal battle after the Court of Appeal today (23 May 2014) overturned a High Court decision and ruled that detention for the purposes of deportation could only be lawful so long as a realistic prospect of removal existed.

The judgment came in the case of a 34 year old man from London who was detained in 2007 under immigration powers following a criminal sentence of 18 months for a documentation offence.

The sentencing Judge had recommended that he be deported and the Home Office had detained him purportedly to remove him to Jamaica; they and Courts having decided that he was a Jamaican national.

However he maintained that he was a British citizen who was born in London and had lived in the UK all his life and the Jamaican authorities too had declined to accept his return.

He was detained in December 2007 and eventually released on bail in September 2011, almost four years later with no removal having taken place.

A claim was lodged in the High Court challenging the lawfulness of his detention.

The Judge ruled that despite there having been no prospect of his removal from 1 June 2010 onwards, his detention was lawful as he had been detained pursuant to a court recommendation for deportation.

Jamie Beagent, a partner in the Human Rights team at Leigh Day explained: “The implications of this High Court judgment would be that the Home Office were immune from damages claims where detention had followed a court recommendation for deportation, as happens in many cases.

“So such an individual would not be entitled to compensation for his time in detention whatever the length of that detention and whatever the prospects of his removal.

“This would create a dichotomy with those detention cases where there was no court recommendation; in those cases the Home Office are liable for compensation where they detain in the absence of a realistic prospect of removal.”

Today’s decision by the Court of Appeal means that Mr A has been unlawfully detained from June 2010 until September 2011 and is entitled to damages for that period.

Mr Beagent said: “This case has far reaching implications. Prior to this ruling the Home Office had argued immunity from damages claims in a number of cases where detention had occurred following a court recommendation for deportation.

“However, with the Court of Appeal’s ruling this morning, this is no longer a defence. This is good news, and means that the Home Office will be subject to the same level of accountability in court recommended deport cases as those where this is absent.”

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