A convicted sex offender who has fought for 14 years to avoid deportation has disappeared after losing his latest appeal.
The man, 46, cannot be named because he was granted anonymity by a court in Scotland which heard that his life could be in danger in his home country if vigilantes learned of his return.
He was due to have been flown out of the United Kingdom last month but he “went to ground,” a judge has disclosed, while rejecting an application by the media to lift the ban on identification.
The man, referred to as A, was found guilty of two charges of indecent assault and one of gross indecency in 1996, and the Home Office later served a deportation notice on him. His “protracted appeal” was ultimately unsuccessful and arrangements were made to put him on a flight on Sunday, 11 November.
He made a last-ditch attempt at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to block his removal. First, a single judge rejected the bid on 8 November, and his ruling was upheld next day at a hastily-arranged appeal hearing before three judges.
The single judge, Lord Boyd, had granted a request by the man’s counsel, Mungo Bovey, QC, for a “section 11” order under the Contempt of Court Act 1981. It prohibited publication of the man’s name, or any details that would lead to his identification. The publication of photographs was also prohibited. The reason given for an order was that it was feared that if it became known A was about to return to his country of origin, he would “be subjected to violence, with the threat of physical injury and possibly death.”
The BBC challenged the order, but Lord Glennie has held that it should remain in force.
In his judgment, he revealed: “The plane on which (A) was due to leave the United Kingdom left without him; he did not use the rail and air tickets provided to him for his travel. He is said to have ‘gone to ground’, though the details of what has happened are not clear as yet. Mr Bovey explained that his client had effectively disappeared.”
Lord Glennie said A had opposed deportation by citing article 2 (the right to life) and article 3 (the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights. He recounted that an immigration tribunal had accepted that, if it became known he was being sent home, linked to the timing of his return, he would be a likely target for violence. The tribunal made an anonymity order, believing it reduced the risk of his return becoming known and, in those circumstances, the tribunal was satisfied that A had not established a real risk of his article 2 or 3 rights being infringed.
Lord Glennie added: “I am satisfied that (Lord Boyd) was justified in making a section 11 order. Allowing the name of the petitioner to be made public in connection with this application would run the real risk of breaching his article 2 and 3 rights. It would run the real risk of undermining these proceedings, by giving the petitioner an additional ground of appeal, thereby frustrating the decision-making process which has been upheld by this court.
“In short, it is necessary to allow his name and identifying details to be withheld from the public so as both to safeguard his rights and also to preserve the integrity of these proceedings and ensure that he can lawfully be removed from this country. A section 11 order is necessary to support that by preventing publication of anything that might identify him.”