Rapist Wins £50,000 For Time Awaiting Deportation

Sean O’Neill, Times (London), Dec. 8, 2006

A convicted rapist who poses a high risk of reoffending is to receive damages of up to £50,000 after being detained unlawfully pending deportation.

The High Court has ruled that the asylum-seeker, identified only as A, had been held illegally for 20 months when there was no prospect of deporting him because of the unstable situation in his homeland.

Mr Justice Calvert Smith refused to release the 31-year-old man, who sat in court flanked by two security guards, because it was now more likely that he could be removed from Britain.

The case also brought to light a new order to judges to grant blanket anonymity to foreign criminals who fight moves to deport them after they have been released from jail.

Sir Anthony Clarke, the Master of the Rolls, has told judges that they must protect the identities of asylum-seekers who appeal against attempts to expel them from Britain.

The ruling, in the form of a practice direction to the judiciary, is designed to protect the appellants from “avoidable risks in the countries which they have come from”.

It means that the names of convicted murderers, rapists and terrorists will have will be kept secret if they challenge efforts by the Home Office to deport them at the end of their prison sentences.

Should they win those appeals, they could be released into the community without the public or their victims having a right to be informed.

Sir Anthony’s direction to the judiciary was drawn up in July, and took effect in October, but it had not been in the public domain until yesterday, when the media applied to be informed of A’s identity.

The judge in the case rejected the application but admitted that he had been “unaware of the practice direction”. He said that he could not overturn it because “it clearly is apt to cover these proceedings”.

A was convicted by a jury in 1998 of raping a women and indecently assaulting her at knifepoint.

He was jailed for eight years. In prison he showed no remorse for his crimes and did not undertake a sex-offender treatment programme. A Probation Service assessment classified him as “too high-risk” to be considered for parole.

He had a poor disciplinary record in prison and displayed “a strong stereotypical view of females”.

When A completed his sentence, in December 2003, the Home Office continued to detain him under immigration powers with the intention of deporting him to Somalia.

He refused to leave voluntarily and it has proved impossible to remove him forcibly because of the absence of a recognised government in Mogadishu and the refusal of commercial airlines to carry deportees.

The judge said that A should have been released on bail after deporting him proved impossible, despite the likelihood that he would abscond. He is to receive damages from the Home Office for that period of illegal detention.

Despite the court’s view that deportation is now more likely, it is not guaranteed that A will be removed. The man, who has been receiving legal aid to fight deportation since 2003, has already applied for another judicial review hearing.

Nigel Giffin, QC, for the Home Secretary, also expressed concerns about naming A. He said that he was concerned that revealing his identity might give A another ground for appealing against deportation.

Damian Green, the Conservative frontbench spokesman on immigration, said: “Yet again the public will find a decision arising out of the foreign prisoners scandal completely bizarre and unfair and will wonder if the Government is ever going to get a grip on this shambles.”

In and out

* 283,000 estimated number of failed asylum-seekers living in Britain, according to the National Audit Office

* 3,635 failed asylum-seekers who were deported from Britain between July and September

*£3,000 amount paid to some asylum-seekers to leave the UK voluntarily. More than 300 have either returned or were caught trying to enter Britain

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