A High Court judge has awarded an illegal immigrant over £17,000 in damages after he successfully claimed that he had been unlawfully imprisoned by the Home Office.
Judge Stephen Stewart QC ruled that Joseph Mjemer had been unlawfully held by the Home Office under "administrative custody" while they attempted to discover his nationality in order to deport him.
Mr Mjemer entered the UK illegally by boat in 2003 and claimed asylum. During the next few years, Mr Mjemer was convicted for more than 20 offences including dangerous driving, property damage and trying to obtain property by deception.
He went by several aliases and claimed to be Algerian, British, Italian, Moroccan and stateless on various occasions.
He was finally taken into custody in 2007 by the Home Office who feared that Mr Mjemer would attempt to abscond while they tried to discover his true nationality.
However, Mr Mjemer's lawyers claimed that between January and May 2011, his detention was unlawful because there was no real attempt to discover his nationality at this time and no real prospect of deportation.
Mr Mjemer also made a claim for "aggravated damages" saying that he had been psychiatrically harmed by his imprisonment.
Judge Stewart ruled that there was no evidence of "substantial deterioration". He believed that the risk of Mr Mjemer being violent or of reoffending was low to moderate and that the risk of his absconding was moderate to high.
Judge Stewart then awarded Mr Mjemer £17,360 for "loss of liberty", for which Mr Mjemer thanked the judge.
Mr Mjemer has been freed and fitted with a monitoring tag. He must report regularly to the police while the Home Office continues to investigate his nationality.
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