G4S staff at Brook House centre 'falsified document'
- 11 November 2013
- From the section Sussex
A High Court judge has asked prosecutors to consider forgery and contempt charges after claiming staff at an immigration removal centre falsified a document.
Mr Justice Mostyn said some G4S employees at Brook House, near Gatwick Airport, had "behaved disgracefully".
His criticism came in a written ruling after a failed asylum seeker took legal action against the home secretary.
G4S said it had suspended two members of staff "with immediate effect".
Details of the case emerged following a High Court judicial review hearing in London nearly two weeks ago.
Mr Justice Mostyn said the anonymous asylum seeker was taken from his room at Brook House in October 2010 and flown out of the country.
His room was then cleared and, as is standard procedure, every item removed was put in a bag and recorded on a certificate.
The judge said the certificate was prepared and signed by a member of staff.
He said it clearly showed that "various paperwork" was collected.
"The certificate was later corruptly redacted in order to eradicate the reference to 'various paperwork'," the judge said.
Three G4S staff members - Marilyn Bennett, Matthew Newman and Tamara Burns - are named in the judgment. Marilyn Bennett is no longer employed by the firm.
In early November 2011, the three made identical witness statements on behalf of the Secretary of State.
Mr Newman and Ms Burns gave oral evidence on oath and were cross-examined.
In their witness statements, they each said: "If any documentation was removed from the claimant's room it would have been clearly referred to on the attached certificate.
"Having looked at the room clearance certificate I am confident that no documentation would have been removed from the claimant's room."
Mr Justice Mostyn said: "The conduct of the Secretary of State's agents in falsifying the room clearance certificate is corrupt and truly shocking.
"When agents of the state falsify documents it undermines, if not fatally, then certainly very seriously, the trust of the people in the operation of the rule of law.
'False witness statement'
"It makes no difference if, as here, the agents are private contractors to whom the Secretary of State has outsourced her powers.
"In this case I am satisfied that there is prima facie evidence of the offence of forgery and I direct that a copy of this judgment be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions along with the relevant documents.
"Further, to make a false witness statement is a contempt of court. Proceedings for such contempt are a matter for the Attorney General, and I direct that this judgment and the relevant papers be sent to him also."
Mr Justice Mostyn dismissed the asylum seeker's claim for damages and said he lacked credibility.
In a statement, the Home Office said: "While we are pleased that the court has ruled in our favour, we are concerned with the reports of staff misconduct.
"Although our staff were not directly involved we expect our contractors to maintain the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.
"Any allegations of wrongdoing must be thoroughly investigated and dealt with accordingly."
A G4S spokesman said: "The allegations made in respect of the conduct of our employees are extremely serious, and we have launched an immediate internal investigation.
"Due to the nature of these allegations, we have suspended the two personnel concerned with immediate effect, pending the outcome of the investigation.
"We will of course cooperate fully with any inquiries the appropriate authorities may pursue in connection with this case."