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£12m paid in asylum seeker claims

More than £12 million was paid out in legal costs and compensation to asylum seekers and other immigrants last year, figures have shown.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) paid a total of £14.2 million last year in compensation, legal costs and ex gratia payments, up almost £2 million on the previous year, the agency's annual report for 2010/11 showed.

This included payments to families who were unlawfully detained and removed, as well as £175,000 in compensation to an asylum seeker who was unlawfully detained and injured while in custody.

Legal costs alone topped £7.7 million in just over 1,000 cases, compared with £3.8 million for 691 cases in 2009/10.

More than £4 million was also paid out in 152 cases where each individual compensation payment was less than £250,000.

This compared with 837 such cases in 2009/10 which led to £4.4 million in compensation being paid.

The UKBA report also said the agency had "various legal claims which are currently outstanding" and had set aside £4 million, "based on past experience", for "a number of cases of unlawful detention".

A UKBA spokeswoman said: "Detention is a necessary part of the process to remove some individuals with no right to be here.

"Cases vary from foreign national prisoners who have served their sentences but are awaiting deportation, to failed asylum cases and individuals found overstaying their visas.

"We use our powers to detain individuals when we believe it is reasonable and lawful to do so and regularly review the system."

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