Am here in Accra and have picked up the vital news from Bob Marshall-Andrew’s office, that Jahongir Sidikov’s deportation has been postponed so his case can be reviewed. This is great news, but it gives us no more than a chance to fight. It makes further representations now still more urgent and important. This is particularly so in view of the Home Office’s initial reply to Bob Marshall-Andrews:
“The problem I have is that the correspondence you enclose from a Ms Catherine Brown appears to have no connection with Mr Sidikov. I know you will understand that Home Office records on individuals have to be treated as confidential and cannot be disclosed to third parties. As you are not Mr Sidikov’s MP and as Ms Brown has no connection with his case, you will appreciate that I am therefore prevented from discussing the details of this case with you. Please be assured, however, that the information you have submitted will be placed on file and will be fully considered by the Border and Immigration Agency before a final decision is made on Mr Sidikov’s case. In more general terms, I confirm that it is Home Office policy to remove political dissidents to Uzbekistan, if the independent judiciary has deemed an asylum claim to have no basis.”
I think this must rank with the most astonishing phrases ever uttered by a British government:
I confirm that it is Home Office policy to remove political dissidents to Uzbekistan
The temporary suspension of Sidikov’s deportation does not affect that policy. It is a policy which is vicious in the extreme as we know perfectly well what happens to political dissidents in Uzbekistan. I think the sentence above is in itself indicative of the hole in the soul of New Labour, and sufficient reason never to even consider voting for them again.
That policy needs to be challenged. So does the “fast track” system by which Sidikov went from hearing to appeal to deportation in just a fortnight. We were told the “fast track” was for prima facie spurious cases from “safe” countries like Belgium. How on earth could a dissident from the worst country in the world to send a dissident get fast-tracked?
It was the fast track procedure that directly caused the failure of Sidikov’s appeal. His solicitor had under a week’s notice of the date, and witnesses – including myself, who was in Africa – could not make it for the hearing at that notice. The judge then refused to accept written evidence from several witnesses living abroad, on the grounds she could not be certain of the authenticity of the statements. She did not give time to establish their authenticity, just refused to accept them. She suggested they were forged because they had similar grammatical errors such as incorrect use of the definite and indefinite article. That was because they were all written by Uzbeks who do not have the article – my Uzbek partner always makes the same mistake in English. I know for certain that the statements were authentic. The judge’s behaviour was a disgrace, and let me be plain I do have contempt of her court, deep contempt. But she was merely indicative of the general mindset of the “Fast-track”, a disgraceful device by which the government seeks to curry favour with the tabloids by increasing deportation numbers.
Boosting New Labour with focus groups infinitely outweighs the torture to death of the odd dissident.