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Thursday, 12 July 2018

Home Office to pay £50,000 damages to father and daughter seperated by immigration control

Written by Jan Colley

A father and his three-year-old daughter who were separated for months while he was detained under immigration powers are to receive £50,000 damages from the Home Office.

Approving the settlement of the judicial review claim at London's High Court on Wednesday, Judge Blair said that the eventual reunion of the pair, identified only as AJS and AJU, was "heart-warming" given all they had been through.

Indian national AJS was detained from June 21 2017 - at the end of a 20-month sentence for unlawful wounding - until September 21 2017.

While in prison, he had regular contact with AJU, who had been taken into care, and the local authority recommended she be given an opportunity to be reunited with him, which was the only viable alternative to adoption.

In July 2017, a family court endorsed that recommendation and said the child would be placed for adoption if her father had not been released by October 2.

AJS was detained at Wormwood Scrubs until the end of July 2017 when he was transferred to an immigration removal centre 250 miles from his daughter and served with an interim decision to deport, which he appealed.

No arrangements were made to enable father and daughter to maintain contact from June 21, said AJS's solicitors Bhatt Murphy, and repeated requests to be relocated nearer his daughter were refused.

AJS was not released until days before the October 2 deadline and was subject to a residence condition, a curfew condition and electronic monitoring, which made the care plan towards reunification impracticable.

Agreeing to pay AJS £40,000 and AJU £10,000, the Home Office accepted that AJS was detained in breach of its published policy relating to detention and family separation, and in breach of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 and he and his daughter's human rights.

Janet Farrell of Bhatt Murphy said later: "The litany of unlawful conduct in this case and how close this child came to the catastrophic outcome of adoption is truly shocking.

"Despite highly critical judgments in the past and compelling evidence of the harm caused to children by the indefinite detention of their parents, the Home Office continues to separate children from their parents in an arbitrary and cruel manner.

"The duty to treat the best interests of children as a primary consideration is too often subjugated to the perceived need to be tough on immigration, with devastating effects on the welfare of children and parents alike.

"We would urge the Home Office to take this opportunity to urgently review their practices and promptly put corrective measures in place in order to protect families in the future."

Celia Clarke, director of Bail for Immigration Detainees, a charity that works on such cases, said: "Time and again we see cases of children separated from their parents in the name of immigration control, but we also see the devastating harm caused to those children by periods of separation."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c)

A father and his three-year-old daughter who were separated for months while he was detained under immigration powers are to receive £50,000 damages from the Home Office.

Approving the settlement of the judicial review claim at London's High Court on Wednesday, Judge Blair said that the eventual reunion of the pair, identified only as AJS and AJU, was "heart-warming" given all they had been through.

Indian national AJS was detained from June 21 2017 - at the end of a 20-month sentence for unlawful wounding - until September 21 2017.

While in prison, he had regular contact with AJU, who had been taken into care, and the local authority recommended she be given an opportunity to be reunited with him, which was the only viable alternative to adoption.

In July 2017, a family court endorsed that recommendation and said the child would be placed for adoption if her father had not been released by October 2.

AJS was detained at Wormwood Scrubs until the end of July 2017 when he was transferred to an immigration removal centre 250 miles from his daughter and served with an interim decision to deport, which he appealed.

No arrangements were made to enable father and daughter to maintain contact from June 21, said AJS's solicitors Bhatt Murphy, and repeated requests to be relocated nearer his daughter were refused.

AJS was not released until days before the October 2 deadline and was subject to a residence condition, a curfew condition and electronic monitoring, which made the care plan towards reunification impracticable.

Agreeing to pay AJS £40,000 and AJU £10,000, the Home Office accepted that AJS was detained in breach of its published policy relating to detention and family separation, and in breach of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 and he and his daughter's human rights.

Janet Farrell of Bhatt Murphy said later: "The litany of unlawful conduct in this case and how close this child came to the catastrophic outcome of adoption is truly shocking.

"Despite highly critical judgments in the past and compelling evidence of the harm caused to children by the indefinite detention of their parents, the Home Office continues to separate children from their parents in an arbitrary and cruel manner.

"The duty to treat the best interests of children as a primary consideration is too often subjugated to the perceived need to be tough on immigration, with devastating effects on the welfare of children and parents alike.

"We would urge the Home Office to take this opportunity to urgently review their practices and promptly put corrective measures in place in order to protect families in the future."

Celia Clarke, director of Bail for Immigration Detainees, a charity that works on such cases, said: "Time and again we see cases of children separated from their parents in the name of immigration control, but we also see the devastating harm caused to those children by periods of separation."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Kirsty O'Connor / PA Wire.