Exclusive: Muazu's fate rests on rearguard legal defence

Justice: Lawyers plot a rearguard defence against deportation
Justice: Lawyers plot a rearguard defence against deportation
Ian Dunt By

Lawyers were engaged in a frantic behind-the-scenes battle to save a Nigerian asylum seeker today, after a last-minute reprieve won him another two days in the UK.

Isa Muazu has not eaten in 90 days and now weighs just 50 kilograms. He is no longer able to see or stand.

He was due to be deported yesterday evening on a Virgin Atlantic flight to Nigeria but the removal was delayed until Friday.

Muazu says he expects to be targeted by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, who have already reportedly killed several members of his family.


Comment: The case that tells us what kind of country Britain is

Speaking to Politics.co.uk, lawyers for Muazu revealed they were pinning their hopes on a new doctor's assessment for the Nigerian national expected to take place this morning.

The existing Home Office doctor's report, which found Muazu was 'fit to fly', was only valid for seven days. It expires today and campaigners and lawyers are hoping that a new medical assessment will deem him not 'fit to fly'.

If it finds him unfit to fly, Theresa May would be forced to cancel the deportation.

If the Home Office fails to conduct a medical reassessment, Muazu's medical status will default back to that of a doctor working for Medical Justice, a detainee rights group, who found he was not 'fit to fly'.

If the reassessment again finds Muazu 'fit to fly' lawyers will apply for a judicial review with an attempt to win a last-minute injunction in the afternoon.

Dozens of protesters are expected to hold a candle-lit vigil outside the Home Office at 17:30 GMT Thursday night.

Meanwhile, parliamentarians were pressing the case with the home secretary, who is accused of turning a blind eye to the asylum seeker despite reports that he is at death's door.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno raised the matter with May yesterday, but she refused to budge from her previous position.

"She wasn't bending at all. There was no sign of clemency at all," Lord Roberts told Politics.co.uk.

She did confirm however that she had called authorities in Nigeria to inform them of Muazu's deportation.

Lord Roberts has put in three private notice questions trying to force a discussion of the deportation in the Lords, but authorities consider the matter sub-judice, meaning it cannot be discussed because it is the subject of an ongoing legal matter.

A similar fate has befallen Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert's efforts to force an urgent question in the Commons.

Campaigners have tried to push parliamentary authorities into recognising that although there is no written court judgement the judge had given his appeal decision.

It is still unclear why yesterday's planned removal was delayed until Friday morning.

It was possibly the result of the Medical Justice doctor's report finding Muazu not 'fit to fly', or due to Lord Roberts' report of his visit to see Muazu, or because of pressure put on the home secretary by Nick Clegg, who had been asked to intervene by deputy Lib Dem leader Simon Hughes.

Some believe a sustained letter-writing campaign to Virgin Atlantic, which had been due to conduct the original flight, gave the company cold feet.

Muazu is now being flown out of the UK on a specially chartered private flight organised by Air Charter Scotland Ltd, a charter company based in East Kilbride.

His case is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hunger strike campaigns in immigration detention centres.

Campaigners believe there are currently five people on hunger strike in the UK and there have been 30 this year so far.

The Home Office refuses to comment on individual cases.

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