Home Office pays pounds 20,000 to Jamaican seized at Gatwick

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A West Indian detained by immigration officers after arriving in Britain on holiday accepted pounds 20,000 agreed damages from the Home Office to settle his claim for false imprisonment.

Peter Honegan, 32, a motor mechanic from Jamaica, was detained at Gatwick airport on 21 December 1993 after arriving to spend Christmas and the New year with relatives. His solicitor Louise Christian told Mr Justice Morland in the High Court in London yesterday that Mr Honegan, who had a return ticket for 17 January 1994, was taken to a detention centre. He was served with a notice refusing him leave to enter the UK and detained.

On Christmas Eve he was moved to a cell in Gatwick police station. Ms Christian said: "On Christmas Day a High Court judge, Mr Justice Clark, granted a telephone application for leave to move for judicial review of the refusal to enter and made an interim order restraining the Secretary of State from removing Mr Honegan from the UK. Mr Honegan was granted temporary admission to the UK until January 17, 1994, and released from detention a few minutes after midnight on December 26, 1993."

Claude Moraes, of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: "This case is important because Britain now detains more people under immigration powers, in the Immigration Act 1971, than any other EU country."