UK Immigration Case: Radha Patel v Secretary of State for the Home Dept

This week, a new case from the Administrative Court Radha Naran Patel v SSHD,regarding the unlawful treatment of a detainee at Heathrow airport. Radha, an Indian national claimed unlawful detention between 23 May and 28 May 2011, for the deliberate and malicious ill-treatment when she was interrogated and detained at Heathrow airport. 

Deputy Judge Anthony Thornton: Applicant was Falsely and Unlawfully Detained

Radha, a 34 year housewife from Gujarat State, India, was travelling to the UK to visit her younger sister who emigrated to the country in 2003. She was planning to stay in the UK for three months, with her sister sponsoring her, which included paying for all her travel and living expenses. When Radha arrived at Heathrow airport, she was subjected to unfair conduct and prejudiced assumptions. The Immigration Officer assumed that she came to the UK to work and not visit family, therefore believing that she would stay in the country once her visa expired.

Radha, lodged a Judicial Review (JR) against a the Secretary of State for Home Affairs on 16 March 2012. At the hearing she claimed that she was unlawfully detained between 23 and 28 May 2011,  during this detention she was subject to ‘malicious and deliberate unlawful conduct’, by an Immigration Officer (IO) and a Chief Immigration Officer (CIO). Therefore breaching her rights under Articles 5, 8 & 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Radha made a series of allegations against the SSHD, which included the following:

  • Her leave to enter the UK was unlawfully suspended and then unlawfully cancelled;
  • She was unlawfully refused entry to the UK;
  • She was temporarily detained pending further investigations;
  • She was subjected to  a further interview;
  • She was unlawfully detained pending her removal;
  • She was interviewed in Hindi,  a language that she is not familiar with;
  • Detained without explanation; and
  • No decision being served upon her.

Deputy Judge Anthony Thornton at London’s High Court, said that he believes when Radha was interviewed at the airport there was an attempt to ‘bully, frighten and cajole her’, to making statements that were not her truth.

“The total effect of these actions and omissions was to greatly interfere with her family visit, cause her to be falsely and unlawfully detained, humiliate, bully and harass her, cause her considerable stress and anxiety over a 10-month period, further harass her by using unlawful means to involve her in three different sets of legal proceedings, greatly to interfere with her family life with her parents and siblings in the UK and with her husband and two children in Gujarat and prevent her returning to her family against her will for a period of five months after the conclusion of the planned period of her family visit.”

Radha Awarded £125,000 for Damages & Breach of Human Rights Act

Deputy Judge Anthony Thornton, noted that although the period of detention was reasonably short it does not excuse the nature of the breaches and unlawful acts against the applicant. Describing those involved in the interrogating and detaining as ‘callous and deliberate behavior’.

“It is to be deeply regretted that this behaviour was meted out to a wholly blameless family visitor who was an adult, female, vulnerable lone traveller whose sole purpose in entering the UK was to pay an extended family visit to her parents and other close members of her family who were permanently resident in the UK and three of whom were British nationals who she had not previously visited in the UK. For her, it was intended to be a family visit of a lifetime that turned into a nightmare of unimagined proportions. That nightmare was only rescued and bought to an end by her courage and determination and that of her family members with the assistance of the professional expertise of her Counsel and legal representative.”

Radha, was awarded £110,000 in general and aggravated damages, as well as breach of the Human Rights Act. She was also awarded a further £15,000 in exemplary damages. The judge has given the Home the right to appeal this decision.

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