Saturday, 7 April 2012

Sheikh Raed Salah Wins Case Against Home Secretary

Last Wednesday I met with Sheikh Raed Salah and a few colleagues to discuss the reasons for the delay in the publication of the Court ruling in his appeal against deportation. Well, the wait was worth it.

Appeal Against Deportation Successful on All Grounds

The Vice-President of the Upper Tribunal in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber has ruled that the Home Secretary’s attempts to deport Shaykh Raed Salah last year were unfounded. Shaykh Raed intended to visit the UK for a week and instead has spent the last 10 months here fighting to clear his name against false allegations made against him.

The Home Secretary was advised by pressure groups that Shaykh Raed be excluded from Britain on the grounds that he was an anti-Semite, and they provided flawed ‘evidences’ to back this up. However, on closer inspection of the materials, the appeal judge has ruled that there was no merit in the accusations levelled against him in relation to a supposedly anti-Semitic poem written by him. He noted that the advice the Secretary of State received from her own advisors was that the case against Shaykh Raed was ‘finely balanced’ and in the view of the judge, the incorrect translation of the poem written by Shaykh Raed tipped this balance in his favour. The judges further state, “Most importantly she was misled as to the terms of the poem written by the appellant, a matter on which there is no room for dispute”.

The judgment ruled that: “We have no difficulty in concluding that the Secretary of State’s decision has not been shown to be proportionate to the need to preserve community harmony or to protect the United Kingdom from the dangers to which the policy refers.” The judge held that the decision to deport Shaykh Raed was a ‘disproportionate interference’ with his rights.

The judgement contained a further damning statement: “There is no evidence that the danger perceived by the Secretary of State is perceived by any of the other countries where the appellant has been, nor, save for the very tardy indictment, is there any evidence that even Israel sees the danger that the Secretary of State sees.”

“This is a victory for those who believe in freedom of speech and who support the Palestinian struggle for freedom from occupation. Shaykh Raed speaks on behalf of millions of oppressed Palestinians and this is a victory for each and every one of them,”
 said Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa.

“In summary, the appellant’s appeal against the decision to make a deportation order against him succeeds on all grounds”, stated the judges.

Source: Friends of Al Aqsa

Middle East Monitor reports:
Palestinian community leader Raed Salah today won his appeal against the British government's attempts to deport him from the United Kingdom. More than 2 months since the latest of a number of legal hearings, the Vice President of the Upper Immigration Tribunal has ruled that "the Secretary of State's decision... appears to have been entirely unnecessary" and that Sheikh Raed's appeal against the deportation order "succeeds on all grounds".

In his judgement, Mr Justice Ockelton said that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, "was misled" and "under a misapprehension as to the facts". He added that "there is no evidence that the danger perceived by the Secretary of State is perceived by any of the other countries where the appellant has been, nor, save for the very tardy indictment, is there any evidence that even Israel sees the danger that the Secretary of State sees."

Sheikh Raed, an Israeli citizen, came to London at the invitation of Middle East Monitor (MEMO) in June last year for a 10-day speaking tour, primarily to speak to parliamentarians at Westminster. His programme was publicised well in advance but attracted no interest from security officials, the UK Border Agency or the Home Office. Two days into the tour, the Home Office claimed that a banning order had been placed on the Sheikh, although neither he nor his representatives in Israel or the UK were given copies, and he was arrested at his hotel in London. Following an initial spell in custody, Sheikh Raed has been living in London under a curfew having opted to stay in Britain to clear his name. He has had to report to a local police station on a daily basis and restrictions were in place to prevent him from speaking in public.

It is understood that the Home Secretary acted initially on an email from the Community Security Trust and started the legal procedure which has resulted in humiliation for the government. Mrs. May's reliance on pro-Israel Jewish community groups who provided the "evidence" which formed the basis of her case against Sheikh Raed is totally discredited by the judgement.

According to Dr. Daud Abdullah, the Director of MEMO, Mr. Justice Ockelton's decision is a landmark for freedom of speech as well the rights of Palestinians to campaign against injustice at home and abroad.
"Mr. Justice Ockelton said that freedom of speech is 'entitled to general protection' and that is what this case is all about," said Dr. Abdullah. "Sheikh Raed Salah is an outspoken critic of his government's discriminatory policies in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and it is entirely appropriate that a leading law officer in Britain has seen through the propaganda and stated clearly that someone, a group or an individual, has 'misled' the Home Secretary on such an important matter."

Sheikh Raed will now return to his home in Israel having seen his faith in Britain's justice system rewarded; he goes home with no stain on his character or against his name.
Source: Middle East Monitor 

I hope now there will be an investigation into the Community Services Trust who were responsible for the dubious evidence submitted to the Home Secretary.