Jacqui Smith ordered to return gay refugee

By Laura Miller

The home secretary must “use her best endeavours” to bring back a gay asylum seeker illegally deported from the UK, a High Court judge ruled today.

Sir George Newman condemned as “manifestly unlawful” the removal of the man known only as Mr X, for fear revealing his identity or native country would jeopardise his personal safety.

In a damning statement, the judge accused the UK Border Agency of wilfully and wrongfully denying Mr X his right to seek legal advice, in actions designed “to avoid any complication that could arise from his removal becoming publicly known”.

Caroline Slocock, chief executive of the Refugee Legal Centre (RLC), the group representing Mr X, said: “The High Court decision is a damning indictment of Home Office practice and, sadly, our experience suggests it is not an isolated case. Even more worryingly, [borders and immigration minister] Phil Woolas recently signalled he wants to curtail the judicial review process which has led to this decision.”

The court heard how last September officials from the agency convinced Mr X he was being transferred to Tinsley House immigration removal centre, near Gatwick Airport, for an interview with an immigration officer.

However no such interview took place. Instead Mr X was bundled into a van by four security men and taken to a plane.

The man testified that when he tried to stay in the van to avoid being ferried onto the plane, the security men handcuffed him and punched him in his genitals to make him straighten his legs so they could be belted together.

In tears, he was carried on to the plane and flown out of the country.

Lawyers for the home secretary admitted in court that his deportation was carried out illegally.

However they argued that returning the man to the UK was pointless as it was inevitable his fresh application for asylum would be turned down.