Lawyers blame restraint techniques

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The Independent Online
SOLICITORS representing the family of Joy Gardner are convinced that her death came as a result of techniques regularly used to deport illegal immigrants.

The case has direct similarities with the forced removal of another single mother from her home in north London last month.

Caroline Michie, the solicitor acting for the woman involved in the earlier deportation, said police officers seem to have developed a common set of restraint techniques. Ms Michie works for Jane Coker and Partners, the firm of solicitors representing Myrna Simpson, Mrs Gardner's mother.

'There is no reason to believe the case was any different. Both were women with a small child and both were carried out early in the morning. In one case we have a verbatim account of what happened,' she said.

Immigration officers and police called at the home of Dorothy Nwokedi, 31, in Finsbury Park, on 9 July. Although she had lived in England for 20 years and had an 11-year- old daughter, Ms Nwokedi had lost her appeal to stay in Britain and was deported to Nigeria.

In a statement made five days after the event and nearly a month before Mrs Gardner's death, she said: 'When I started crying, they forcibly put me down. One of the men (the big one) sat on my back, another one sat on my legs while they tied my legs, knee to my ankle, with a broad Sellotape. In the struggle my thumbs were broken and I was bruised all over.' Ms Nwokedi was taken to Gatwick airport and she maintains four officers travelled with her and her daughter to Lagos. She was placed in a special cubicle at the end of the aircraft and the tape around her legs was released about two hours after take-off.

Ms Nwokedi said she was given the choice of 'prison or be deported' and opted for prison. She was put on the aircraft with only the clothes she stood up in.

Ms Michie said that she was pursuing the case as immigration officials had ignored new facts and a final plea made before the deportation by Barbara Roche, Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, in whose constituency Ms Nwokedi lived.