The High Court has ruled a family of asylum seekers unlawfully detained in a night-time raid and flown to Germany nearly six years ago must be returned to the UK.
Home Secretary Theresa May has also been ordered to pay the five family members a total of some £37,000 in compensation.
A judge said the violation of the rights of the husband, his mentally-ill wife and their son and two daughters, now aged between 14 and 23, entitled them to return to the UK, if they so wished.
Mr Justice Cranston, sitting in London, awarded basic and aggravated damages after a QC for the family, who are asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, described their treatment as “a moral outrage”.
Lawyers for the family said the ruling was “a tremendous relief” to the family, and they would be returning to the UK – “which is something they have been longing for, for nearly six years”.
Manjit Gill QC, representing them in court, described how they were taken from their beds and flown out of the country after being denied access to legal advice.
The QC said the family, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had their north London home raided at 2am on January 10, 2006 by immigration and police officers.
They were then put on a 7.50am flight to Germany, the EU country they stopped in before coming to the UK.
Home Office immigration authorities said Germany was responsible for determining their asylum claim. The children were then aged eight, 14 and 18.
Even now members of the family, who suffered from depression and mental health problems, continued to experience the psychological effects of their “nightmarish” experience, said Mr Gill.
Mr Gill said that, although it was obvious from the outset, it was not until earlier this year the current Home Secretary finally accepted that their detention and removal were unlawful.
Their treatment was all the more outrageous, Mr Gill said, because, had the correct procedures been adopted, it was inevitable they would have been able to make an application to remain on human rights grounds.
Giving judgment on Tuesday, the judge said Home Office lawyers disputed the family’s version of the events of the night their London home was raided, but it was accepted they were unlawfully detained.
He ruled father and son were entitled to £4,500 each in basic and aggravated damages, and the mother and two daughters to £6,000 each.
He also ruled they were entitled to special damages of £10,000 for the loss of their property when they were detained, but gave the Home Office 28 days to challenge the total amount or any aspect of the special damages claim.
The judge said it was uncertain whether the family would get permission to remain in the UK when they were returned but that was not an issue before the court.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “We are disappointed with this decision and will be looking carefully at our next steps.”