Monday, 10 January 2011

Notes from Siva's bail-hearing

Here are some notes made by Caroline Beatty when she attended Siva's bail-hearing on 31st December as guarantor for Siva's surety:

Background notes and report on bail hearing 31.12.10
Sivarajah Suganthan, aged 26, originally from Sri Lanka, has two young children by a British citizen. He was detained on 7th December. He was taken to the Sri Lankan High Commission to get an “emergency travel document” on 22nd December, but has not yet been given Removal Directions. He is now being held in Dover Immigration Removal Centre. He does not have a solicitor acting for him at present.

He hopes to put in a fresh claim / application for reconsideration on the grounds of community support and involvement, as well as the rights of his children to access to their father.

His former solicitor in Gloucester made a bail application 2 weeks ago, on the grounds that he was being held in detention without any date set for removal. The hearing was listed for Feltham Park on 21st December and then cancelled. It was re-listed for Central London on 31st December 2010. Siva was ‘present’ via a video link. I was present at the hearing in my capacity as surety. The solicitor was on leave.

The hearing was a farce, with serious consequences for Siva, for the following reasons:

  1. Siva had not been given a bail summary (setting out the Home Office argument). It was only given to him 4 days after the hearing took place.
  2. Siva did not have a legal representative. UKBA and the court had been informed this would be the case.
  3. As the surety I was present but not allowed to speak or be in the video frame.

The judge asked the Home Office to speak first to oppose bail. In his statement the HO
spokesman :

  1. Did not mention that Siva has children in UK
  2. Did not mention the first, failed, attempt to document him as a Sri Lankan national
  3. Did not mention that after the failure to document him, he was given Temporary Admission again and a monthly reporting condition
  4. Did not mention that Siva has complied with all requirements to sign at Cheltenham police station between 2006 and December 2009 – every month.
  5. Did not mention Siva’s second application for asylum in 2010, in an attempt to regularise his position
  6. Did not mention his young age on arrival in UK
  7. Did not mention that he has no family

The Home Office spokesman gave wrong information as follows:
  1. Stated ‘brought by family’ to UK. This is incorrect: he came into UK with a couple that he did not know
  2. Stated that he had not followed reporting conditions between 2006 and 2010
  3. Being not allowed to work and without support at the time, Siva has a minor conviction for taking sandwiches and drinks from TESCOs in order to survive. He served 13 weeks of a 26 week sentence. The Home Office said that he was “imprisoned for 39 weeks” suggesting a significantly more serious offence
  4. Stated Siva would not reside with the surety (it was clearly stated that he would do so)
  5. Stated that there was only one surety (in fact we had details for a second surety offering the same recognizance)

Home Office reasons for opposing bail given in the bail summary:

Altogether 10 reasons were given for opposing bail, 8 of which are based on wrong or incomplete information.

After the Home Office statement the judge asked Siva why he should be given bail.

As Siva had not seen the bail summary, he was entirely unprepared, either for the Home office statement with all its misinformation, or to defend himself at all. When he tried to speak, for example to explain that he had not “absconded”, but had signed every month as required, the judge interrupted, and did not let him finish. He said that he saw no reason to grant bail, and the application was therefore refused.

Caroline Beatty
Welcome Centre Manager
Bristol Refugee Rights
Tuesday, 04 January 2011