"How close this child came to the catastrophic outcome of adoption is truly shocking."
The UK Home Office is paying an Indian man, only identified as AJS, £40,000 in damages after an error in detaining him left him unable to see his four-year-old daughter.
On 11th July 2018, the United Kingdom Home Office admitted that it had made a mistake in detaining AJS.
He was mistakenly placed in immigration detention for three months after serving 20 months in prison for wounding in June 2017.
The man launched a legal case against the Home Office and was successful. AJS cited ‘false imprisonment’ and ‘disruption’ to contact with his child as the basis of his complaint.
According to Little India, his child was three at the time and a Lithuanian national.
As well as paying AJS, £40,000 the UK Home Office also has to pay £10,000 in damages to the child and cover the family’s legal expenses.
The father was placed in detention awaiting his deportation. As a result, his daughter was put into care, even after a report from the local authority stated that it would be best for the child to be raised by her father.
The same local authority believed that the child’s mother was not capable of looking after her.
Initially, AJS was held in immigration detention at Wormwood Scrubs prison in London. He was then moved 250 miles away to the Verne immigration removal centre at Dorset.
This centre was located 250 miles away from where his daughter was living. During this time, no arrangements were made for the two to have contact.
To make things worse, the BBC reported that the Home Office refused the man bail twice. They also denied AJS the opportunity to transfer so he could be closer to his daughter.
In addition, once AJS was released, his bail address was some distance from the location of his daughter.
He also had to contend with an electronic tag and daily curfew. These additions made it difficult for the two to meet even after his release.
Had they not been united, the child would have been put up for adoption. In court, the Home Office acknowledged that it had acted in an unlawful manner.
In a statement, a UK Home Office spokesperson said:
“We try to keep families together wherever possible and when considering returns put the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children at the center of any decision. In this case we accept that we did not comply with our own published policies.”
The Guardian quoted the father’s solicitor, Janet Farrell as saying:
“The litany of unlawful conduct in the 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.”
AJS’s solicitor added:
“The duty to treat the best interests of children and 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.”
Judge Blair who had heard the outcome of the case, labelled it “reassuring” and “heart warming.”
This case comes after the Windrush fiasco that saw legal UK residents being detained and deported.
The scandal received a huge backlash from the public and eventually led to the resignation of Amber Rudd.