Theresa May has become only the second Home Secretary in British history to be found guilty of contempt of court and stands accused of ‘totally unacceptable and regrettable’ behaviour by Judge, Barry Cotter, QC, following the outcome of a UK Immigration case.
Mrs May is said to have shown complete disregard to a legal agreement to free an Algerian criminal from a UK Immigration detention centre, a decision that lawyers say could potentially throw the entire system into confusion.
Due to the serious nature of the matter, Mr Cotter, came to the very rare conclusion that Mrs May was in contempt of court. In a statement he said: “the Home Secretary has shown most regrettable and unacceptable actions, which have led to an intentional breach of her previous duty to free foreign criminal, Aziz Lamari.”
Yet, in some sort of reprieve for the Home Secretary, she did avoid further charges, which could have included a fine or even imprisonment, because she did eventually allow the prisoner to be freed.
A spokesperson for the Judicial Review office said: “HHJ Cotter QC found the defendant guilty of contempt for failing to release Aziz Lamari having agreed to do so. There was no penalty imposed for the contempt – the finding in itself is serious.”
A spokesperson for Duncan Lewis, the solicitors who brought the case against Theresa May, stated that: “it’s our belief that Mrs May’s crackdown on UK Immigration rules had led UK Border Agency (UKBA) officials to completely ignore the request to release Lamari.”
A spokesperson for the UKBA said: “Aziz Lamari is a failed asylum seeker who had served custodial sentences for serious offences. He was held in a UK Immigration detention centre awaiting deportation and removal to Algeria and we accept that he was not released on the date set by the court, which resulted in yesterday’s judgment.”
Mr Lamari, 22, came to Britain in 2009 and applied for UK Asylum, however, he absconded several times over a period of three months and he was then jailed for exposure and robbery. His original 12 month sentence was served by December 2010, yet he was remanded in a UK Immigration detention centre, whilst attempts were made to have him deported back to his homeland of Algeria.
The case was brought to a conclusion by Judge Cotter at Exeter Crown Court earlier this week and he ruled that Mr Lamari should receive damages, as he was held too long, and he subsequently ruled that Mrs May was indeed in contempt of court.