A banned extremist who made a mockery of Britain’s border controls is now likely to pocket £5,000 in compensation because immigration officials could not speak his language.
The High Court ruled yesterday that Sheikh Raed Salah, described as a ‘virulent anti-Semite’ in the Commons, could claim compensation for unlawful detention by immigration officers.
They had seized the pro-Palestine hardliner – who should never have been allowed into Britain in the first place – to have him deported.
But immigration staff failed to explain to him ‘in a language he could understand’
precisely why he was being detained – a technical breach of the rules. The preacher cannot speak English and officials failed properly to translate what was happening, the court ruled.
As a result – even though the Home Secretary had legal powers to hold him – he was unlawfully detained for 34.5 hours, until proper explanations were given to him about what was happening in Arabic.
At one stage, an immigration officer had tried to use an ‘app’ on his iPhone to give instructions to the extremist.
But he did not give Salah, 52, all the information required to make his detention lawful, Mr Justice Nicol decided.
Salah can now formally apply for taxpayer-funded compensation. The likely pay-out is between £4,000 and £5,000 – or about £150 for every hour he was held.
Michael Weiss, of the Henry Jackson Society think-tank, said the case was an ‘embarrassment’ for UK Border Agency officials.
‘I find it scandalous that someone like this is getting damages and is being paid with British taxpayers’ money,’ he said.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer said he was shocked by news of the ruling.
‘We speak English in this country and anybody that wants to come here and preach hate is going to do so in English as well,’ he added.
‘I fail to see the logic of what has happened. Yet again some form of craziness is making Britain look ridiculous.’
Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, managed to walk through immigration checks at Heathrow Airport on June 25 despite being barred from the UK by the Home Secretary.
Immigration officials had failed to inform him of the ban – and he was unaware that he should not travel here.
He was finally detained three days later on the direct orders of Theresa May, but only after addressing meetings in London and Leicester. Thehome Secretary ordered that Salah be removed on the grounds that his presence was not ‘conducive to the public good’.
Court papers say Mrs May has alleged that Salah has ‘publicly expressed views that fostered hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK’.
He denies being an anti-Semite and is challenging his removal.
Lawyers claim his treatment was a breach of Article 10 of the Human
Rights Act – the right to ‘freedom of expression’. A separate court appeal on this row is due to take place next week.
In the meantime, Salah has been released on bail and is staying at a five-bedroom detached house in a leafy suburb in North London while his case is processed.
He is credited with a string of outrageous statements, although he denies being an extremist.
He is said to have claimed that the 9/11 plot was carried out by Israelis and that Jews were warned not to go to the World Trade Centre before the murderous attack in New York on September 11, 2001.
He was released from prison in 2005 after serving two years for fundraising for the Palestinian terror group Hamas and for having contact with an Iranian spy.
It is understood that Government solicitors will fight the claim for compensation on the grounds that it is a minor point and his overall detention was lawful.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The decision the Home Secretary took was the right one. The court decided there was a technical problem when he was detained.'