A shoplifter with "a bad criminal record for offences of theft" has won the right to damages against the Home Secretary under human rights laws.
"MXL", a Jamaican mother of two young children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, became involved in "a serious case of wholesale organised crime" and is fighting Government moves to deport her.
But, it was revealed on Friday, a High Court judge has ruled that her detention pending removal became "disproportionate" after a failure to take proper account of the needs of her children to be with her.
Mr Justice Blake, sitting in London, said MXL was entitled to "an appropriate award of damages" against the Home Secretary which should be assessed by another court, if not agreed.
The judge described how MXL entered the UK as a visitor in December 2001.
In 2003 she was granted indefinite leave to remain after marrying a British citizen and settled in east London.
Mr Justice Blake said: "The claimant has a bad criminal record for offences of theft."
Her first recorded shoplifting conviction came within three months of her arrival in the UK, in February 2002, and she received a community punishment order for 40 hours.
In the next six years, she was convicted of 19 theft offences committed on six separate occasions.
She was punished with fines, community punishment orders, a community rehabilitation order and suspended prison sentences.