The jury at the inquest into the death of Rubel Ahmed has returned an open conclusion alongside its critical narrative. Una Morris of Garden Court Chambers represented Rubel Ahmed’s family.
Rubel Ahmed died at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre, a former prison, in September 2014 after he was found hanging in his room on the Windsor Unit, where detainees were locked into their rooms each night at 8.30pm until the morning. Detainees on some of the other units at Morton Hall were not locked into their rooms overnight.
A few days prior to Rubel’s death, he had been told that he was being removed to Bangladesh. During the inquest, it was revealed that there was no system in place for following up with Rubel after he had been served with removal directions and that the staff responsible for Rubel’s welfare on the night of his death were not even aware that removal directions had been served on him. A member of staff who was not on duty that night had to be called in to identify Rubel after he had died.
The jury found that “various factors contributed to the death of Mr Ahmed, such as inadequate levels of communication between multi-disciplinary teams surrounding Mr Ahmed from the time of him being served his removal directions.”
Concerns about immigration detainees being held in prison-like conditions have already been expressed by an All Party Parliamentary inquiry panel and HM Inspectorate of Prisons. In 2013, it was recommended by the Inspectorate that Morton Hall stop locking detainees in their rooms overnight. The inquest heard from Morton Hall’s Centre Manager, who accepted in her evidence that there were lessons to be learned from Rubel’s death, as to why this recommendation remains unimplemented.
Mr Ajmal Ali, Rubel’s cousin, said on behalf of the family:
“As a family, Rubel’s loss has opened up a deep void in our hearts. The time we knew him was an honour and privilege as he always shone as a humble, shy, gentle and caring young man.
“Despite a thorough investigation by the police and PPO, we feel Rubel’s death has flagged up some serious issues around the application of prison protocols across immigration detention. In particular, locking Rubel up in his room early in the evening prevented him from being able to talk to his fellow detainees in the hours before his death leaving him alone with his own thoughts and worries. We believe that being unlocked would have made a difference to him that night.”
At the conclusion of the inquest, HM Senior Coroner Stuart Fisher indicated that he intends to produce a report to prevent future deaths.
More information can be found in INQUEST’s press release.
The family of the deceased is being represented by Una Morris. Una is instructed by Clare Richardson of Bhatt Murphy. Both are members of the INQUEST lawyers group.
Una is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Inquests Team.