Beds, Herts & Bucks

Yarl's Wood migrant 'can sue government over prescribed drug'

Yarl's Wood detention centre Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Yarl's Wood is the main removal centre holding women and families facing deportation

A migrant who claims her psychosis was triggered by medication given to her at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre is to be allowed to sue the government.

The 36-year-old from Nigeria, known as GB, was given an anti-malarial drug while detained for outstaying her visa.

A High Court judge has ruled she could bring a case of negligence against the Home Office.

Government lawyers had argued operators Serco or the individual doctor were "more directly responsible".

'Heard voices'

The Bedfordshire facility houses up to 400 women under threat of deportation.

The woman, who came to the UK in 2010 and detained in June 2012, said she was prescribed the drug by a local GP contracted by Serco to provide medical cover.

A few weeks later she complained of hearing voices and the centre's mental health team concluded she was sectionable and lacked capacity.

She was given an anti-psychotic drug and specialist care before being released with residence and reporting requirements. She was later granted refugee status until July 2019.

The High Court was asked to decide whether she was owed a "non-delegable duty of care" so the Home Office would be liable if negligence by medical staff was established.

'Clear responsibilities'

The Home Office told the court there was "no proper reason" why GB was not pursuing either Serco or the doctor concerned.

But Mr Justice Coulson said it was "fair, just and reasonable" for such a duty to exist.

"The defendant (Home Office) decided to detain GB, and consequently had clear responsibilities for her treatment as a detainee as a result," he said.

"It would not be just, fair or reasonable to conclude that those responsibilities disappeared simply because of an outsourcing decision."

The negligence case will be considered at a later date.

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