Saeed Khan,TNN | Aug 31, 2014, 04.21 AM IST

AHMEDABAD: The British high court has asked the UK government to pay a Gujarati woman £1.25 lakh as damages for illegal detention and harassment caused to her by immigration authorities at the Heathrow Airport when she had gone to England some years ago to meet family members. The behaviour of the officials at the airport had turned what was just a family visit into a “nightmare”.

Radha Patel, a mother of two who belongs to Godpar village in Kutch district, had gone to England in May 2011 for three months to meet her sister, Hansa, and brother, Laxman, who are settled there. On arrival at the airport, she had told officials there that she was neither well versed in English nor Hindi.

But instead of help coming to her, that seemed to have only complicated matters. During questioning, while she said that he sister sews curtains, the officials wrote that she had come to help her sister “in sewing curtains”. But what was most harrowing was her five-day detention, that too without the knowledge of her siblings. Her entry into the country, too, was held ‘unlawful’ and her passport impounded for the next five months.

After hearing the case at length, the high court’s deputy judge, Anthony Thornton, concluded that the officials had indeed bullied her and tried to establish that their mistake was merely a typographical error. The judge then ordered the government to pay a total of £1,10,000 in general and aggravated damages under the Human Rights Act, and a further £15,000 in exemplary damages.

In awarding compensation to Patel, the judge observed: “For 10 months, Radha faced a series of deliberate ploys which were unjustified and unlawful… her family visit of a lifetime was ruined, she and her elderly parents and siblings went through agonies for days whilst she was detained.”