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Exclusive Immigration centre ‘denied bipolar man meds for weeks’

Court hears detainee's condition deteriorated after he didn't get vital anti-psychotic drugs

A BIPOLAR man in immigration detention was not given his medication for nine weeks despite repeated requests, the High Court heard today.

MA did not receive anti-psychotic medication for 47 days between December 2015 and January 2016 while detained at Campsfield House and Harmondsworth immigration removal centres (IRCs), and a further two weeks between January and February 2016.

His barrister Raza Halim said the consequences were "predictable and predicted," noting: MA suffered "paranoid ideation, auditory [and] visual hallucinations" and also believed he was "being visited at night by armed men who wish to kill him."

He said the Home Office's "serious and sustained failures in managing [MA's] mental health … by failing to administer anti-psychotic medication to [MA] over an extended period rendered his detention unlawful."

The court heard MA had a "history of serious mental ill health" since he was sectioned in February 2015.

MA's previous medical records would have been "important to establish a diagnosis and to inform ongoing clinical care," Mr Halim said.

His "full records should have been requested" on arrival but were not "and there is simply no good reason for it," Mr Halim added.

MA outlined his mental health history in his claim for asylum and a request for temporary release, in which he said that since he was detained "my depression has gotten worse … making me mentally unstable and unwell."

He subsequently attended his current IRC welfare centre and complained about his mental health, all of which "should have triggered some sort of inquiry," Mr Halim said.

MA's Rule 35 report, which assesses potentially vulnerable detainees' suitability to be kept in detention, found that MA was "likely to be injuriously affected by continued detention."

By January 18, his condition had deteriorated significantly and he spoke to the mental health team complaining of "men in his room who want to take him away," which Mr Halim said was “hugely alarming.”

Mr Halim added: "Having been put on notice countless times, seven weeks after he is detained … how can it be that this is a satisfactory state of affairs?

"How can it be that it is seven weeks later that it [receiving his medication] happens? There is simply no good reason."

Jennifer Thelen, for the Home Office, said the detention was lawful, submitting that MA's condition was "treatable at the detention centre once medication was made available."

She pointed out that "many people receive medication in detention."

Ms Thelen added that, if MA's case was that the lack of medication was "the reason that his underlying mental illness became a serious mental illness," then it followed that his condition could be managed in detention providing his medication was available.

She suggested that MA might have an arguable claim for negligence, but not for unlawful detention.

Judge Nicholas Paines QC reserved judgement in the case.

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