Damages for sex assaults immigrant
An illegal immigrant convicted of "revolting" sex offences is to receive damages after a judge concluded he was illegally detained by Home Office officials for around seven months.
Naseer Chawki, who claims to be 34 and from Iran, won a High Court fight with Home Secretary Theresa May following a hearing in London.
Deputy High Court Judge Stephen Morris said the size of the payout for Chawki would be assessed, and gave no indication what the figure would be.
Chawki, who had failed in a bid to claim asylum, claimed that he was held in immigration detention when then was "no prospect" of him being deported, and therefore his detention had been unlawful.
Mrs May disputed his claim. She said he had been found guilty of a serious crime and posed a "serious risk of harm" to the public, and there was a "serious risk" that he would abscond.
Lawyers told Judge Morris that Chawki arrived in Cardiff in 1999 before moving to Liverpool then Seven Sisters, north London.
In November 2008 he was given a three-year jail term after being convicted of two sex assaults and possessing a false identity document.
The sentencing judge, who heard Chawki had taken advantage of women on a crowded train, said the sex offences were "revolting" and had "very lasting effects" on the victims.
Chawki was placed in immigration detention following his release from jail in December 2009, after ministers ordered his deportation.
He was released from immigration detention in late March last year - but made to wear a monitoring tag - after attempts to deport him failed.
Judge Morris ruled that detention was lawful for the majority of the four years and four months Chawki was held, b ut he concluded that detention was unlawful between mid-September 2013 and late March last year.
He said by mid-September 2013 there had been "no sufficient prospect of removal within a reasonable time".
Judge Morris said Mr Chawki had maintained that he was Iranian but had "resisted removal to Iran".
He said officials had concluded that he was not Iranian, thought that he was from north Africa and had made efforts to obtain paperwork so that he could be deported to Algeria - but those efforts had not been successful.
Early in 2014, a "language analysis" report had concluded that Mr Chawki was not from north Africa and he had subsequently been released - "subject to tagging".
The judge suggested that officials could have made more effort to check whether Mr Chawki was from Iraq.
But he ruled in Mrs May's favour on a number of points.
He said Mr Chawki had presented a "reasonably high risk of absconding" and there had been a "reasonably high risk of fairly serious harm to the public from re-offending".
And he said Mr Chawki had "sought deliberately to frustrate the process of removal" and had added to the "confusion and difficulties" officials had faced.
But he went on: "However, even if the claimant has shown utter contempt for the system and has been extremely deceptive, whilst it can justify much longer detention, it cannot justify indefinite detention."
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said later that Mr Chawki had been given legal aid to finance his claim for judicial review.