To prevent the proper investigation of deaths at Harmondsworth Immigration Centre Patel tried to deport a key witness. As Home Secretary she has responsibility for detention centres. The witness managed to go to court in time and obtained a ruling to stop his removal.
As reported in the Guardian two judges in the immigration court ruled on Wednesday that three of the home secretary’s detention policies breached human rights rules and that she could not frustrate or undermine inquiries into these deaths.
The ruling relates to two friends, Ahmed Lawal and Oscar Lucky Okwurime, both from Nigeria, who were in Harmondsworth immigration removal centre when Okwurime was found dead in his cell there on 12 September 2019.
Lawal proved to be a key witness, but the Home Office tried to deport him five days after the death before he could provide any evidence. He took the case to the high court and a judge halted his removal. The judges found that the home secretary’s decision to remove Lawal to Nigeria was unlawful as she had failed to take reasonable steps to secure his evidence relating to Okwurime’s death before starting removal proceedings.
Lawal’s solicitor, Jamie Bell of Duncan Lewis solicitors, said: “This case demonstrates the cavalier attitude of the Home Office when enforcing removals. Despite a tragic death within a detention centre, the home secretary did not hesitate to maintain her plan to remove potential witnesses by charter flight, ignoring anyone who wished to come forward to give evidence.”
The Home Office is the epitome of institutionalised racism, and not so Priti Patel has their back. Labour’s leading human rights lawyer is turning out to be a human rights whally – where is he?