African leader's asylum plea fails

A FORMER vice-president of Sierra Leone who fled after an armed coup yesterday lost the last legal round in his attempt to stay in Britain.

But three judges in the Court of Appeal said it was only with regret that they accepted a ruling by Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, that Dr Abdulai Conteh must seek asylum in Belgium.

Dr Conteh, 46, was educated in London and Cambridge and has a house in Finchley, north London. He is a barrister, has a son, 20, resident in Britain and a daughter, 17, at Roedean school for girls.

The Home Secretary rejected Dr Conteh's application for asylum because Britain was not the first safe country he had reached. He had first flown to Belgium.

The Home Office also claimed Dr Conteh had been a member of a corrupt government, although there was no allegation that he was personally corrupt.

Dr Conteh applied for a judicial review of the Home Secretary's decision, but it was turned down. Yesterday, the Appeal Court upheld the refusal and said Mr Clarke had acted within the law. However, Lord Justice Bingham said it was 'with some regret' that he had to refuse the appeal. And Lord Justice Farquarson said: 'It is plain that the UK is the most appropriate country in which he could take up residence.'

Dr Conteh was a member of the Sierra Leone government in various posts for 15 years. He fled in a dugout canoe to neighbouring Guinea after the coup in April, and hid for 10 days. He had lost his passport, but was given a Guinean diplomatic passport before flying to Belgium where he applied for a visa to visit Britain.

When he reached London he telephoned the office of Baroness Chalker, the Minister for Overseas Development. The following day immigration officers arrested him for travelling on false documents. He was taken to a detention centre but later allowed bail.

Alper Riza QC, for Dr Conteh, claimed the Home Secretary had failed to act in accordance with government policy by refusing to take account of Dr Conteh's family and close links with Britain. The question of his participation in the Sierra Leone government record was irrelevant.

However, the Appeal Court ruled that Mr Clarke's decision was not legally flawed or susceptible to judicial review.

After the hearing Dr Conteh said he hoped the Home Secretary would still change his mind: 'The only place I could reasonably be considered for asylum on humanitarian grounds is Britain.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?