Hit-and-run Iraqi can stay in UK

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The Independent Online

A failed asylum-seeker who left a 12-year-old girl dying under the wheels of his car while banned from driving will be allowed to remain in the UK, judges ruled today.

Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, 33, an Iraqi Kurd, was already banned from driving when he ran off, leaving Amy Houston trapped under his Rover car.

Her father, Paul Houston, 41, from Darwen, Lancashire, begged judges at a recent deportation hearing to bring "my seven years of hell to an end" by sending Ibrahim back to Iraq.

Mr Houston was left to make the decision to turn off her life support machine hours after the crash in Blackburn, Lancs, in November 2003.

He has since campaigned to get Ibrahim deported in a tortuous legal battle spanning seven years.

Last month he handed in a letter to judges, containing an impassioned plea asking for Ibrahim to be deported.

The Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber sitting in Manchester also heard Ibrahim, given leave to remain in the UK, had a string of criminal convictions.

Ibrahim's lawyers argued that his human rights would be impinged if he was sent back to Iraq.

And today two senior immigration judges rejected a final appeal by the UK Border Agency to have him deported.

Ibrahim will now be allowed to live in the UK permanently.

Today Mr Houston said he was "frustrated and angry" at the decision.

"I'm really angry. We should all be angry. It is a ridiculous state of affairs," he said.

"I'm battling away here on my own. This is a perversity of our society.

"What are the judges saying here? They are saying it doesn't matter what you do when you come here, who you kill, what laws you break, as long as you have a child here you can stay?

"You work hard, play by the rules, pay your taxes and this is how you get treated. What does that say about politicians, our leaders and the legal system? It's a joke.

"They are obsessed with the rights of others from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Where are my human rights?

"This man is a criminal, do we have no say who we allow in this country?

"He's not a life-saving surgeon or a Nobel prize winner. He was a criminal before, a criminal now and he will continue being a criminal.

"The Human Rights Act is for everybody, not just asylum-seekers and terrorists.

"How can he say he's deprived of his right to a family life? The only person deprived of a family life is me. Amy was my only family."

Ibrahim's lawyers claimed human rights laws permitted him to remain in the country, as his right to life and to family life trumped attempts to return him to his native Iraq.

Mr Houston was not allowed to address judges at the last appeal hearing.

Lawyers for the Border Agency asked for Ibrahim to be deported on the grounds that the judge who originally allowed Ibrahim leave to remain on the basis of his right to a family life did so incorrectly.

Although he now has two children, there was little evidence to suggest he was living at the same address so could not claim a right to family life, it was argued.

The judges were also told of Ibrahim's convictions, including a further incident of driving while disqualified in 2006, harassment and possession of drugs.

But Senior Immigration Judges Lane and Taylor, in a reserved judgment made public today, rejected the Border Agency appeal.

They said the original decision should stand but added that the outcome might well have been different if the process to remove Ibrahim had begun before he had children.

Ibrahim knocked down Amy near to the home of her mother, Joanne Cocker, from whom Mr Houston is divorced.

He was already serving a nine-month driving ban for not having insurance or a licence.

He ran off but later handed himself in to police.

Ibrahim was jailed for four months after admitting driving while disqualified and failing to stop after an accident.

After serving his sentence, Ibrahim, who came to the UK in 2001, met a British woman, mother of his children Harry, four, and Zara, three.

At the time, Ibrahim's applications for asylum and citizenship had been rejected and although he was technically awaiting deportation, he was not returned to Iraq because the lack of security in the country would have breached his right to life.

Last year he won leave to remain in the UK after arguing that, because he now had two children since being freed from prison, he had a right to a family life under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

It is now thought all legal avenues to have Ibrahim deported have been exhausted.