Greg Ó Ceallaigh KC secures damages for a British national unjustly detained by the Home Office

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Greg Ó Ceallaigh KC of the Garden Court Public Law Team represented the claimant, instructed by Haroon Kamidad and Bahar Ata of Duncan Lewis.

The below content has been reproduced from a Duncan Lewis press release.

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Following a legal challenge brought by Greg Ó Ceallaigh KC and Duncan Lewis Solicitors, the Home Office has settled a claim for significant damages. This claim was made on behalf of a British national who was wrongfully detained by the Home Office for nine days.


The claimant (A) is a British national of Gambian origin and has been living in the UK since 2004. He was naturalised as a British citizen in 2011. In September 2018, A was returning home from Israel via Norway. Upon arrival at Stansted Airport, A presented his British Passport at the electronic gates. The machine at the gate refused entry and he was asked to present himself to the Immigration Officer. The Immigration Officer questioned A about his journey and his previous addresses.

A was then taken aside and questioned relentlessly. He was accused of being a liar and refused entry. A was informed he would be detained and removed back to Norway. The Home Office approved the detention on the basis that A was not the rightful holder of his passport.

The Home Office attempted to remove A to Norway on the very passport that they believed he falsely possessed. A maintained during this period that he was a British national but the Home Office ignored his plea. He spent the first four nights in a short-term holding facility at the airport, before being transported to Brook House Immigration Removal Centre. 

A’s MP, Jeremy Corbyn, also wrote to the Home Office to enquire about his detention. The Home Office continued to interview A in relation to the passport and continued to threaten removal from the U.K. However, they failed to undertake any investigation on the rightful holder of the passport. Despite legal intervention, the Home Office maintained the decision to detain A. Nine days into detention, A was released on immigration bail subject to him reporting the next day.

Seeking Redress for the False Imprisonment

A attended Stansted Airport and his passport was returned to him. He received an email shortly after informing him that he was the rightful holder of his British Passport. Despite this clear oversight by the Home Office, A received neither an apology nor any acknowledgment of their error. As a result, A brought false imprisonment proceedings. The Home Office denied liability but agreed to pay significant damages to A for the nine days he had been wrongfully detained.

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