Indian Woman, Illegally Detained By UK

Radha Naran Patel, 33, a housewife from Gujarat, visited England to spend vacations with her sister there. Little did she know that this ‘vacation’ would turn out to be nothing short of her worst nightmare. Radha was tormented, intimidated, illegally detained and imprisoned all within one day of her arrival to the UK.

Patel was travelling from Godpar, where she lived with her in-laws, to England where her parents (who are British citizens) and siblings had been residing for over ten years. She had planned to spend five months in the UK.
Radha’s sister, a seamstress by profession who resided in Harrow, London, sponsored her trip. After successfully attaining a six month visa, Radha landed in England only to find herself being harassed by an immigration officer who accused her of coming to England in order to work for her sister. She was then taken into the questioning chamber and interrogated for several hours, after which she was detained.

The false impression of the immigration officer, that Radha had intended to work for her sister, became the basis of further questioning and scrutiny. Unfortunately for the poor woman, who only spoke Gujarati, there were no translators provided and she could not comprehend, let alone answer, what the immigration officers were asking her.
The officer who interviewed Radha had scribbled some notes behind her landing card that said she was there to work and would get paid. When the case went on trial, the presiding judge, Justice Anthony Thornton, acknowledged the relevance of the notes but also added that there was no link between her working and getting paid as details had not been mentioned.

Radha was detained at around five in the evening but the time recorded for the official interview is almost 10.30 pm the same day. She claimed that during this time she was cross questioned several times and that too in a very hostile and bullying manner. Radha’s brother had come to pick her up and was told, during a brief hostile interview at midnight that his sister was being detained. At this point, her brother decided to hire an immigration lawyer.
The immigration lawyer who took up this case was Mr. Urvi Shah, a native Indian who had been practicing law in the UK. He stated that although the UK immigration law provides powers to immigration officers, they had clearly misused these powers against an innocent woman. Urvi told the judge that Radha had been imprisoned for a week between May 23rd and May 29th and was transferred from Colnbrook detention centre to Yarl’s Wood without informing her beforehand.

Radhas passport was confiscated and she was prevented from travelling back to India for ten months. During this period, Radha recalls, her children were parentless and had to be taken care of by their old grandparents. She pursued the case once she returned home and her case was finally heard, after two years, at the High Court in London on October 2013.

Justice Thornton made his ruling very clear; that it was an act of gross misconduct on behalf of the immigration authorities who had undoubtedly done injustice to Radha. She was awarded £110,000 in damages and £15,000 in exemplary damages which amounts to approximately R1.25 crore in India. However, the Home Office seems adamant not to give in and has planned to appeal again. Until then, Radha will not be compensated at all.