Supreme court clears way to deport rapist

John Aston,Pa
Thursday 25 November 2010 14:04 GMT

A Somali national jailed for rape and indecency with a child faces deportation following a ruling of the Supreme Court.

The highest court in the land allowed an appeal by the Home Secretary against a Court of Appeal decision which had effectively blocked the removal of the offender, who can only be referred to as "MA".

Today David Wood, strategic director of the UK Border Agency's criminality and detention group, said: "We welcome the Supreme Court's findings.

"Public protection comes first and we will take action to deport any foreign national convicted of a serious crime."

Mr Wood announced: "We will now seek to deport this individual from the United Kingdom."

MA, a Somali, entered the UK illegally in May 1995. He was refused asylum but given exceptional leave to remain.

Three years later, in July 1998, he was convicted of rape and indecency with a child and jailed for eight years.

In May 2002 he was served with notice of the Government's intention to deport him and began a long legal battle to avoid removal.

He has spent the last 12 years in prison, or in detention pending deportation.

Following a series of unsuccessful appeals, a deportation order was made in April 2004 and removal directions set for November 2006.

MA's lawyers issued a "fresh claim" for asylum. They argued that, as a member of the Isaaq clan, he faced a real risk of physical violence if returned to Mogadishu, capital of Somalia. as he did not have the necessary connections with powerful people in the city to protect him.

The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) concluded in July 2009 he had not told the truth and rejected his claim that he faced a risk of inhuman and degrading treatment, breaching Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The appeal court allowed MA's appeal, saying the AIT had failed to take proper account of the evidence, including the length of time he had spent imprisoned in the UK, which could have impacted on his Mogadishu connections.

But five Supreme Court justices - Lord Phillips (president), Lord Walker, Lady Hale, Lord Mance and Sir John Dyson - ruled the AIT had not fallen into error and upheld the Home Secretary's challenge to the appeal court ruling.

Sir John Dyson, delivering the judgment of the court, said the AIT's task "of sorting out truth from lies is indeed a daunting one".

The objective evidence about conditions in Somalia was that "only a person who had close connections with powerful actors - such as prominent businessmen or senior figures in the insurgency or in power criminal gangs - was likely to be safe if returned to Mogadishu."

MA had given a great deal of conflicting evidence "to the effect that he had no connections in Mogadishu at all".

The AIT found he had not told the truth, although they were were unable to find positively that he had the necessary close connections in order to receive protection.

But Sir John said it was clear the AIT were not just "throwing up their hands and rejecting MA's appeal because he had lied".

They had rejected his appeal because MA had failed to prove there were substantial grounds for believing he faced a real risk of being subjected to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment in Somalia.

Sir John declared there was no error of law in the AIT ruling that warranted interference from the Court of Appeal.

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