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Home Office fury as drug dealer immigrant wins right to stay in U.K.

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Home Office fury as drug dealer immigrant wins right to stay in U.K.

Post  Panda on Sun 28 Apr - 9:22

Home Office fury as drug dealer immigrant wins right to stay in UK

A judge's decision to allow a convicted drug dealer who abandoned his
children the right to stay in Britain over his “human rights” is at the centre
of mounting political protest.

Hesham Mohammed Ali

By David Barrett, Home Affairs

8:45PM BST 27 Apr 2013


Hesham Mohammed Ali won an appeal against moves by Theresa May, the Home
Secretary, to deport him because of his crimes.

He convinced a judge he had a “family life” which had to be respected because
he had a “genuine” relationship with a British woman – despite already having
two children by different women with whom he now has no contact.

Ali also mounted an extraordinary claim that his life would be in danger in
his native Iraq because he was covered in tattoos, including a half-naked
Western woman – a claim which was only dismissed after exhaustive legal

In his decision to let Ali stay, the immigration judge said he was not taking
into account new guidelines introduced by the Home Secretary last week, in an
attempt to stop spurious human rights cases being brought by criminals to
prevent their deportation.

The Home Office has said it was “disappointed” by the ruling, while MPs said
it showed there was an urgent need to stop abuse of human rights laws.

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“Foreigners who commit serious crimes should be deported, regardless of
whether they have family in the UK,” a spokesman said.

“We are disappointed with this judgment and that is why this Government will
bring forward primary legislation to prevent foreign nationals remaining in the
UK through abuse of the Human Rights Act.”

Dominic Raab, the Tory MP who is campaigning for human rights reform, said of
the case: “It is bad enough a convicted drug dealer cheating deportation because
he has a girlfriend.

“But it’s even worse that our elastic human rights laws consume government
time and money fighting such ludicrous claims. The shifting human rights
goalposts have encouraged a 'try it on’ culture at taxpayers’ expense.”

Priti Patel, the Tory MP, said: “The right to family life has been completely
abused in this case. It’s clear this individual has no regard for proper family
life and the upbringing of his children, as he has no relationship with either
of the mothers let alone either of his children themselves.

“It is wrong for hard-working British taxpayers to be footing the bill for
cases like this. It is further evidence that our human rights laws need to be
reviewed immediately.”

The Home Office spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money trying to have
Ali deported, fighting his initial appeal – which was eventually set aside – and
a second hearing.

The two key elements of his claim were his “family life”, and the danger his
tattoos would pose if he was deported to Iraq.

During that hearing the court went to great lengths to consider the issue of
Ali’s tattoos, with Judge Jonathan Perkins describing the issue as
“problematic”. He asked whether Ali, 36, had considered having the tattoos
removed and heard evidence from an expert witness on whether Iraqi people were
victimised for having body art.

Ali was brought to Britain “irregularly” by a people-smuggling gang in 2000,
when he was 24, and has never been in this country legally. Two years after
arriving he made an asylum claim which was refused, as was a subsequent appeal.
However, for reasons which are unknown, he was not deported and continued to
live in Britain.

He had a child with an Irish woman and then another son with a woman from
Liverpool but has no contact with either child, the Upper Tribunal Immigration
and Asylum Chamber heard.

In November 2005 he was convicted of possessing Class A and Class C drugs,
and fined.

Just over a year later he was convicted of another offence at Snaresbrook
Crown Court in London but this time it was more serious – possessing Class A
drugs with intent to supply – and he was jailed for four years. Under
immigration laws any foreign national jailed for a year or more should be
subject to automatic deportation.

Within months of his sentencing, the Home Office told Ali they would attempt
to deport him but because there was confusion over his true nationality, the
case was allowed to lapse.

The drug dealer was released on bail in January 2009. Deportation proceedings
began again in 2010, and Ali again lodged an appeal. He told the court he would
be in danger if he was returned to Iraq because he was so Westernised.

Allowing him to stay at the second hearing, Judge Perkins said he was
impressed by evidence from Ali’s girlfriend, Cy Harwood, 31, a Londoner who has
trained as a beautician. They met in 2005.

The judge ruled that Ali’s deportation would have a very damaging effect on
her and would be a breach of the couple’s rights under Article 8.

“Destroying an important relationship in the light of a reformed criminal who
was last in trouble over six years ago is, I find, just too much and I am
satisfied that an exception is made out,” he said.

The judge also detailed the claim that tattoos, and Ali’s claim that he had
become Westernised, would put him in danger in Iraq.

“He described himself as 'covered in tattoos’ including a half-naked Western
woman on his chest, a sea horse and star on his arm and his fiancee’s name 'Cy’
surrounded by stars on his hand.

“He was asked if he could refer to any evidence to confirm his alleged fear
that being tattooed would be a sign of the infidel in Iraq. His answer was
vague. He referred to watching videos on YouTube. He said that people with
tattoos get stoned or harmed.”

Alan George, a specialist on Iraq who appeared for Ali, told the court he was
not aware of any examples of Muslims being persecuted because of their tattoos
but he added that “tattoos would be considered un-Islamic and a tattoo of a
semi-naked woman particularly objectionable”.

He suggested it would be difficult for Ali to pray because Muslim ritual
requires him to bathe and expose his body.

Describing the issue as “problematic”, Judge Perkins said: “I have had to
think carefully about this but the appellant had not given any indication that
he had any objection to trying to conceal the tattoo or have it removed.

“[The tattoo on Ali’s hand] might prompt inquiry but as it is a central
feature of the appellant’s case that he is now a devout Muslim I am not
persuaded there is a real risk of a tattoo doing more than prompting curiosity
which would be satisfied by his sincere explanation about the strength of his
religious convictions.”

Ali said he worked as a wrestling promoter and had also been a professional
dancer. At one stage he passed an audition to work for Simon Cowell, the music
impresario, but “he was arrested before he was able to take advantage of that
opportunity,” the court heard.

Judge Perkins added that he was deliberately not taking into account the Home
Secretary’s changes to the immigration rules.

“I do not arrive at this conclusion by considering the rules in their amended
form which purports to introduce aspects of Article 8 expressly into the rules,”
he said.

“They do not assist me with the proper application of the appellant’s human
rights. My decision is in accordance with binding jurisprudence.”

The case raises new concerns over the arguments sometimes put forward by
foreigners who are seeking to stay in Britain, such as the Bolivian man whose
case was first reported in The Sunday Telegraph in 2009.

Camilo Soria Avila argued that he should not be deported partly because he
and his boyfriend had bought a pet cat, Maya, and joint ownership of the animal
added weight to his case that he enjoyed the “right to family life” in Britain.

The immigration tribunal ruled that sending Mr Avila, 36, back to Bolivia
would breach his human rights because he was entitled to a “private and family

with his British boyfriend Frank Trew, 49, and joint ownership of a pet was
evidence that he was fully settled in this country.
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