The Home Office has agreed to pay £50,000 compensation after a three-year-old girl was left in care while her father was unlawfully placed in immigration detention.
At the high court on Wednesday, the Home Office admitted that the detention of the father was unlawful as it breached both the department’s own policies and the father and daughter’s right to family life, under European #law.
The court heard that the father, an Indian related to an EU national, was placed in immigration detention after serving a 20-month prison sentence for unlawful wounding.
The local authority where he had been living did not believe the child’s mother was capable of looking her and said it was in the child’s best interests to be raised by her father.
The family court ordered that it was in the best interests of the girl, known at court as AJU, that she be reunited with her father, AJS. The court also warned that if this did not happen, the girl would have to be placed for adoption.
Despite this, the Home Office moved AJS to an immigration centre in Dorset, hundreds of miles from the place where his daughter was in care. He was released after three months in immigration detention, just days before his daughter was due to be placed for adoption.
His solicitor, Janet Farrell of the London law firm Bhatt Murphy, said: “The litany of unlawful conduct in the case and how close this child came to the catastrophic outcome of adoption is truly shocking.
“Despite highly critical judgments in the past, and compelling evidence of the harm caused to children by the indefinite detention of their parents, the Home Office continues to separate children from their parents in an arbitrary and cruel manner.
“The duty to treat the best interests of children and a primary consideration is too often subjugated to the perceived need to be tough on immigration, with devastating effects on the welfare of children and parents alike.”