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Hostile Environment: Inquests open into deaths of two victims of Tory immigration policy

CORONERS will probe the government’s hostile environment policy at a series of inquests beginning tomorrow.

The deaths of Windrush migrant Dexter Bristol and immigration detainee Carlington Spencer will both be investigated.

Mr Bristol was 58 when he collapsed on a London street last March, after an 18-month battle with the Home Office to prove he was settled in Britain.

He had lived in London for half a century, after leaving Grenada at the age of eight.

During Theresa May’s tenure as home secretary, he was forced to prove he had resided continuously in this country and faced losing his council house, welfare benefits and, ultimately, deportation if he failed to do so.

His family say the hostile environment policies put Mr Bristol under “unbearable stress,” culminating in his premature demise.

The full circumstances leading up to his death will now be probed by senior coroner Mary Hassell at St Pancras coroner’s court.

This will be the second inquest into his death, after the findings of an earlier coroner were quashed following a judicial review brought by the family.

The first coroner refused to hear evidence from an independent cardiologist on how the stress involved in proving his settled status had contributed to Mr Bristol suffering cardiac arrest.

At a separate inquest in Lincolnshire, senior coroner Timothy Brennand will probe the death of Jamaican man Mr Spencer, who died after having a stroke at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in October 2017.

The 38-year-old moved to Derby with his British wife in 2010 but found it hard to adjust to life in England after experiencing numerous bereavements.
 
Mr Spencer struggled with alcoholism, separated from his wife, spent periods homeless and suffered mental and physical ill health.
 
After a spell in prison for drug offences, he was moved to Morton Hall pending deportation, where he became unwell and was taken to hospital but died soon afterwards.
 
His family hope the inquest will explore whether medical staff at Morton Hall took sufficient steps to monitor Mr Spencer’s heart condition. 

Another detainee at Morton Hall, Bai Bai Ahmed Kabia, died from a brain haemorrhage in 2016. Last month, an inquest jury said that opportunities to prevent his death had been missed.

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