Man unlawfully detained when sleeping rough latest to receive five-figure payout
A Polish man has become the latest person to be awarded five-figure damages by the High Court for unlawful detention after being found sleeping rough.
Antoni Holownia, 63, was unlawfully held at Brook House immigration removal centre (IRC), near Gatwick airport, for 153 days between April and September 2017.
He was detained as part of Operation Gopik, a national policy to deport European Economic Area (EEA) nationals found sleeping rough in the UK, which was ruled unlawful in a separate High Court case in December 2017.
The Home Office subsequently admitted Mr Holownia’s detention was unlawful and that he was entitled to damages.
Giving judgment in London on Wednesday, Mrs Justice Simler said Mr Holwnia’s detention was “unlawful from the very start” and awarded him a total of £37,000.
The judge adjourned Mr Holownia’s claim for damages for psychiatric injury said to have been sustained in detention to a later date.
In her ruling, Mrs Justice Simler said Mr Holownia entered the UK in 1993 or 1994 on a visitor visa but was later granted the right to work.
Mr Holownia was eventually detained in April 2017 when found “sleeping rough at his work site”, the judgment said.
Mrs Justice Simler said that, during his time at Brook House (pictured), Mr Holownia briefly went on hunger strike, which was “clearly a protest” against his detention and which “while a personal choice for him, must have made his experience of detention worse”.
She awarded Mr Holownia £32,000 in basic damages and a further £5,000 to “reflect the ‘hunger strike’ element” of his detention.
However, the judge rejected his claim for exemplary damages, ruling: “While the Home Office did not cover itself in glory in formulating and pursuing the policy which has now been declared unlawful, there is no evidence of conscious wrongdoing whether by the conscious decision to operate a policy known to be illegal or vulnerable to challenge or any other conduct.”
Mr Holownia’s case is the latest in a series of similar damages claims brought against the Home Office by EEA nationals who were detained after being found sleeping rough.
In March, Mariusz Majewski was awarded nearly £15,000 after he was unlawfully held in immigration detention for 38 days.
Mr Justice Swift, ruling that the 42-year-old was entitled to £14,800 in compensatory damages, said Mr Majewski’s case was one of approximately 30 such claims.
In January, a Polish couple who were unlawfully detained for more than five months were awarded nearly £90,000 in damages by the High Court.
Iwona Deptka, 33, and Henry Sadlowski, 38, were unlawfully held for 154 days after they were found sleeping rough in Lancashire.
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