A failed Algerian asylum seeker who has been in Britain for 18 years is demanding £50,000 compensation - claiming that he was 'illegally detained' for almost a year.
Abdel Zahali, 53, was jailed after threatening to set himself on fire in front of an MP and was held for 11 months at the end of his sentence under Home Office rules.
Now he is suing the Home Secretary claiming that holding him after his prison term breached his human rights because of the effect it had on his mental health.
It is not known how he is funding his claim - although it is likely he is receiving legal aid.
Fire: Zahali threatened to torch himself in front of Labour MP Louise Ellman and is now suing Home Secretary Theresa May for £50,000
After arriving in Britain on the back of a lorry in 1994, Zahali has fought to stay in the country but lost a succession of appeals.
The Algerian, who worked for the Government in his homeland, claims he faces persecution if he returns.
As he battled to remain in Britain, he threatened to set fire to himself in front of Liverpool MP Louise Ellman in her constituency office in December 2009.
A judge told him he must serve 10 months behind bars after he pleaded guilty to affray. The court was told that the politician had sympathy with him and he acted out of desperation.
FURY OVER £12M ASYLUM SEEKER PAYOUTS
He went on hunger strike while being held at HMP Liverpool.
After he had completed his sentence he remained at the jail, detained under home office rules.
The Home Secretary then transferred him to Colnbrook Immigration Removals Centre in June 2010.
He was put under hourly observations because of a suicide risk, and then moved to the vulnerable prisoners unit where he tried to hang himself.
He was eventually given immigration bail in January 2011 after a psychiatrist said he was depressed and was having suicidal thoughts.
Zahali claims the Home Secretary failed to follow Home Office guidelines when detaining him.
The Algerian, who lives in Edgware, London, argues he has been falsely imprisoned, and he should only have been detained in very exceptional circumstances.
He claims that he was subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment - because being detained made his depression worse.
His solicitors have filed a writ at the High Court and he is demanding up to £50,000 in damages.
A Home Office spokesperson said: 'Every detention decision is made on a case by case basis. The UK Border Agency has no wish to detain people for any longer than necessary.
'We do not routinely comment on individual cases.'