Death 'due to a climate of fear'

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The Independent Online
Immigrant welfare campaigners yesterday suggested that a climate of fear among ethnic minorities which were the focus of a Home Office strategy of deportations had led to the death of a Nigerian man who fell from a third-floor window.

As an independent police inquiry into the death of Joseph Nnalue began, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the latest in a succession of incidents had been a tragedy waiting to happen.

But the family and friends of Mr Nnalue, 31, said a solicitor would be pressing their assertion that he had died because two officers had used excessive force and then exacerbated the situation by delaying a call for an ambulance.

Scotland Yard rejected any suggestion that the officers had acted improperly, giving the timings of logged calls for assistance and maintaining that police attempts to revive the man using heart massage had been misinterpreted as an attempt to restrain him.

Officers accompanying an official from the Home Office immigration service called at the apartment on the second and third floors of a block in Clapham, south London, on Sunday morning on the suspicion that Mr Nnalue had overstayed a visa.

Police said he fell from the third-floor window while the immigration officer was still downstairs, and that police officers radioed for an ambulance immediately.

Claude Moraes, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants' director, yesterday said: 'There is a palpable climate of fear among some communities . . . There is a real prospect that people end up in detention for indefinite periods, appeals are dismissed and everyone knows someone who has been deported . . . It's this that prompts otherwise sane people to climb out on to ledges and jump from third- floor balconies.'