Rape case challenge at risk from deportation: Women's group joins fight to clear name

A MAN's eight-year battle to clear his name of a highly contentious rape conviction is now being thwarted by a Home Office decision to deport him by the end of the month.

The evidence pointing to the possibility that Sammy Davis, 42, has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice, has become so strong that the feminist group, Women Against Rape, has taken up his case.

This week they and others, including Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour MP, will make a representation to the Home Secretary in an effort to stop his expulsion to his native Ghana, while lawyers will seek to mount a second attack on his behalf through the European courts.

Mr Davis was convicted of raping a Swedish student in a minicab office in Manor House, north London, in 1986, on evidence gathered by Stoke Newington police - now at the centre of one of the largest inquiries by the Police Complaints Authority into allegations of corruption.

The only evidence against him was an identification made by the victim in court - not on an identification parade. He was the only black man she was asked to consider. Her original description had been of a clean-shaven man with a large belly and hands. Mr Davis was slim and had a moustache.

Scientific tests on samples from his body and office revealed no link to the crime. Tina Panu, working in the office with Mr Davis, had gone downstairs to make tea, and had been absent only a few minutes and heard nothing.

The victim failed to identify to the court the minicab office in which Mr Davis worked. The office had no lock and key with which the attacker could have locked the victim in, as she had claimed.

The case was taken up by BBC's Rough Justice programme, which gathered the evidence to form the basis for a submission in 1990 by the organisation Justice to the Home Office to overturn the conviction. They were convinced that the victim had been unable to identify the correct minicab office - and therefore the correct man - when being driven round by police in an effort to locate the scene of the crime.

At about the same time, Mr Davis - after four years in prison - was granted parole. But the Home Office refused to reopen the case. Further information had been gathered by the Metropolitan Police from the victim during the Home Office review - but this has never been made available to Mr Davis's lawyers and they are currently seeking a judicial review to obtain it.

Now the Home Office is seeking to deport him as an illegal immigrant - even though he and his wife have lived in Britain for 20 years and their three children, aged 15, 13 and 3, were all born here. A Home Office spokeswoman said yesterday that a person would not be deported if a legal appeal was outstanding.

Yesterday, Mr Davis said that he was convinced the move was to stop his fight to clear his name: 'If I am sent away who will fight on? They have already destroyed me, but now they are destroying my family.'

It is on behalf of his two older children, Albert and Martin, that the challenge through the European courts will be launched. It will be argued deportation destroys the children's right to family life.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for Women Against Rape said: 'Sammy and his family are now being punished a second time for something he did not do. Women's justifiable anger against rape must not be used as a pretext for imprisoning innocent men and curtailing civil liberties. Convicting the wrong men does not protect women or serve justice.'