Head of under-fire prisons firm paid £3.6m

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The head of the prisons operator criticised after an 84-year-old dementia sufferer died in handcuffs in one of its immigration centres earned $6m (£3.6m) last year, The Independent has learnt.

Employees of the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow took the Canadian man, understood to be Alois Dvorzac, to hospital in handcuffs where he died while in restraints, a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) revealed.

The centre is run by GEO Group UK, a division of a US prisons operator whose chief executive, George Zoley, was paid $6m, according to its most recent annual accounts. John Hurley, who runs the non-US operations, received $1.5m. Both men are directors of the UK company.

GEO has been criticised in the US for allegedly lobbying for more incarceration of immigrants. A number of murders and riots at its US prisons have led to costly court cases. Its UK division lost £2.7m in 2012.

According to HMIP, the Canadian man’s death was one of a number of “shocking cases where a sense of humanity was lost” at the GEO centre.

A statement from GEO said: “Detainees are not routinely handcuffed when taken out of the centre. However, handcuffs may be used, balanced against a number of factors, including their age.”