Falsely jailed man gets £60,000

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A High Court judge has condemned the Home Office's "unforgivable" treatment of a Dutch national falsely imprisoned for 128 days, supposedly in a case of mistaken identity.

Deputy Judge John Leighton Williams awarded Abdillaahi Muuse, 40, £60,000. This included £25,000 basic damages, £7,500 aggravated damages and a "significant punitive" award of £27,500 exemplary damages, as the judge considered the conduct of the Home Office's servants or agents "particularly deserving of condemnation".

Somali-born Mr Muuse acquired a Dutch passport in 2000 after seeking asylum and brought his family to England, where they settled in Milton Keynes.

In February 2006, after his relationship with his wife deteriorated, he was charged with common assault and two breaches of a restraining order. That August he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three months' imprisonment concurrent on each breach and six months consecutive for the assault, but was ordered to be released immediately as he had already been in custody for 147 days. But Mr Muuse was instead detained in custody until 15 December 2006.

The defence case was that Mr Muuse was detained pending consideration of deportation because it was believed that he was a Somali national, his identity having been confused with someone of a similar name.

The judge concluded that he was satisfied that misfeasance in public office was proved both against Immigration and the Prison Service, and therefore against the Home Office.