Home Secretary admits Article 3 ECHR breach and concedes unlawful detention claim for £105,000

Tuesday 6 February 2024

The Claimant was represented by Alex Schymyck of Garden Court Chambers, led by Nick Armstrong KC of Matrix Chambers and instructed by Lewis Kett and Dominic Chambers of Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

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A week before a two-day trial in the High Court in R(MT) v Secretary of State for the Home Department AC-2023-LON-001114, the Home Office have conceded that they unlawfully detained an individual with severe mental illness and subjected him to inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 ECHR.

The case arose from the botched November 2022 evacuation of Harmondsworth IRC following a catastrophic power failure. Detainees were effectively abandoned in the detention centre while a delayed evacuation was implemented, and then detained on a bus for over 24 hours without sufficient water or access to medication while being transferred to another centre. The Home Office conceded two similar claims during trial in November 2023, and acknowledged that the disorderly evacuation breached Article 3 ECHR and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

In MT, the Home Office agreed to pay damages of £105,000 and accepted liability for his entire period of unlawful detention (250 days), a breach of Article 3 ECHR through failure to ensure consistent access to anti-psychotic medication for his mental illness, and a breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty through a failure to have due regard to the need for an evacuation plan adjusted for disabled detainees.

The Claimant, a US national, had been diagnosed with schizophrenia prior to entering immigration detention, but the Home Office had failed to take adequate steps to confirm the seriousness of his mental illness and his suitability for detention. The Home Office accepted the Claimant was unlawfully detained under immigration powers in breach of the Hardial Singh principles and because of a failure to follow policy in light of the Claimant’s medical circumstances for the entirety of his immigration detention.

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