Briton deported to Jamaica launches action against Home Office | Immigration and asylum
A Briton convicted of murder is taking legal action against the Home Office after he was wrongfully deported to Jamaica.
Richard Wallace, whose parents came to Britain as part of the Windrush generation in the 1950s, was born in London’s Paddington in 1969. In 1998 he was convicted of murdering a man working in a takeaway restaurant in South London.
After serving his sentence, he was wrongly classified as a Jamaican, in what Wallace believes was a case of mistaken identity, and deported to the Caribbean island in 2015.
He returned to the UK on his British passport in 2018. But on his return he was charged with fraudulently using his own passport and jailed for two years. He was released in October 2020 after DNA testing with other British family members proved he was compatible with them.
He told the Guardian his treatment left him “completely broken” and that he believed as a black man he was a victim of “institutional racism”.
Wallace’s attorney, Naga Kandiah, launches a lawsuit against the Home Office and other government agencies. “Serious instances of maladministration and incompetence led to a British citizen being deported under another name and falsely imprisoned. He suffered enormous injustice and hardship for many years,” Kandiah said.
Wallace spent his early years in the UK with his father, a carpenter and religious minister, and his mother, an NHS nurse. They then moved to Jamaica with his family. He returned to the UK on his British passport at the age of 18 to continue his education. When he was convicted of murder, a 20-year tariff was set by the Home Secretary.
He was later reduced by a year by a judge who said he had made “exceptional” progress in prison. Alongside numerous educational qualifications, including a degree from the Open University, he has also worked as a peer tutor, intervened to prevent another prisoner from committing suicide and did charity work.
“I took responsibility for the crime I committed. It was a tragedy and the most horrific time of my life. I decided I wanted to spend my time in prison on purpose,” Wallace said.
But he told the Guardian he believed he was wrongfully deported to Jamaica because authorities mistook him for someone else. The Interior Ministry declined to comment on this claim.
“I told them dozens of times that I was Richard Wallace, a British citizen. But they didn’t listen to me,” he said.
At the end of Wallace’s prison term, he was taken to Colnbrook Immigration Detention Center near Heathrow Airport. “At that time, I just wanted to get out of captivity after all my years in prison. It was horrible and unfair. I was in a very low spirit. I felt hopeless and helpless and couldn’t resist being deported to Jamaica.
Wallace says he struggled to survive in Jamaica. He managed to make a living by cooking food in a store and for most of his time in Jamaica he slept on the floor of the store.
Wallace is trying to rebuild his life in the UK and has set up a restaurant business specializing in North African and Caribbean cuisine called Richphire Etrez. He also mentors young people at risk of being involved in knife crime in South London.
“It’s all been so traumatic for me,” he said. “The authorities exhausted me and broke me. I don’t believe this injustice would have happened to me if I was white. They would have said: ‘He is one of us’. I have experienced institutional racism all along. A prison officer called me a “monkey”, but when I complained, nothing was done. »
The Home Office issued Wallace a new British passport in 2021 after acknowledging he lost the British passport he used to return from Jamaica in 2018.
Internal Home Office records seen by the Guardian indicate that it is “very likely that the status of the document which was recorded as a ‘fraudulently obtained document’ is also incorrect, as we know that the passenger using the passport was Richard David Wallace”.
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘We do not routinely comment on individual cases.