Government to face legal action by returned asylum-seeker

Gay man's deportation to Uganda is overturned by High Court judge. Emily Dugan reports

The Home Office is facing legal action after it forcibly deported a gay Ugandan asylum-seeker when his case was still under review. John Bosco Nyombi is now seeking damages against the Government after British judges ruled that his removal was "manifestly unlawful" and ordered his return.

The case will embarrass Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, over its suggestion that casual cruelty and inefficiency are at the heart of the British asylum system.

Speaking for the first time since arriving back in the UK, Mr Nyombi told the IoS: "The last year has been torture. I've never done anything wrong and what the Home Office did was illegal. All the things I went through are because of them."

The 38-year-old originally fled to Britain in 2001, fearing that being gay – which in Uganda can result in life imprisonment or even death – put his life in danger. He had an outstanding application for a judicial review on his case when he was taken by four security men and bundled on to a flight to Kampala on 18 September 2008. When he tried to resist and ask for a lawyer, the British removal officers allegedly dragged him by the handcuffs and struck him in the groin and shoulder.

Just two days earlier, Mr Nyombi's face had been on the front page of a Ugandan national newspaper "outing"him as a homosexual and reporting on his fight to stay in the UK. Within moments of his arrival in Kampala, he was abandoned by the British officers who had accompanied him on the flight, leaving him to be interrogated by border police who had seen the article and wanted to arrest him.

He managed to escape a first arrest after paying a bribe. The former careworker then endured six months in hiding before the Home Secretary secured his release, twice getting caught and put into prison where he was violently beaten by both staff and inmates for his sexuality.

On hearing the circumstances of Mr Nyombi's removal from the UK, a deputy High Court judge, Sir George Newman, said the Home Office was guilty of "a grave and serious breach" of the law. The judge also ruled that Mr Nyombi had been "deliberately misled" on the day of his removal. He was told that he was being taken from Tinsley House removal centre "for an interview". Instead he was taken to Gatwick airport. The guards gave him no opportunity to contact friends or lawyers, even though Home Office rules state he should have 72 hours' notice to allow time for calls.

In a final insult, when Mr Nyombi finally arrived back in the UK on 6 March, he spent three days being held in immigration detention because of a "miscommunication". This was despite an arrangement made with the Home Office that he would stay with friends following his ordeal.

Mr Nyombi, who was known as "Mr X" while his lawyers fought to bring him back to the UK, has now won his asylum appeal and is back in Southampton staying with a friend. Once his immigration papers come through, his old job as a carer in a local nursing home is waiting for him.

Nick Armstrong, Mr Nyombi's barrister at Matrix Chambers, said: "It is very rare to have the Home Secretary ordered to return someone. It happened here because of the quite extraordinary catalogue of errors. The Home Office used a policy which was unlawful. It really could not have gone more wrong, and betrays a worryingly casual attitude towards matters of fundamental rights, including access to lawyers."

After fleeing his country, fighting a seven-year immigration battle and suffering a further six months in Uganda in fear of his life, safety has come at a great cost for Mr Nyombi. "I think I've lost a lot of things," he said. "I've lost time and I have been stopped from working. I want to rest now, I want peace. For the last five years, I've been wondering what will happen tomorrow. For the first time, I won't have to worry about that."

Despite his ordeal, he is careful not to tar Britain with the mistakes of its government. "Although I've had a rough time, I'll never say it was Britain that did it to me, but always the Home Office. Without the friends I have here, I wouldn't have survived."

Caroline Slocock, chief executive of Refugee and Migrant Justice, said: "The sad truth is that without the intervention of a High Court judge, he would be there now. This appalling case illustrates how vital it is that adequate scrutiny is maintained."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape