Felix Wamala v Tascor Services Ltd (formerly Reliance Secure Task Management Ltd)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeMr Justice Walker
Judgment Date20 June 2017
Neutral Citation[2017] EWHC 1461 (QB)
CourtQueen's Bench Division
Date20 June 2017
Docket NumberCase No: HQ12X04287

[2017] EWHC 1461 (QB)



Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL


Mr. Justice Walker

Case No: HQ12X04287

Felix Wamala
Tascor Services Ltd (formerly Reliance Secure Task Management Ltd)

Mr Tom Hickman (instructed by Deighton Pierce Glynn) for the claimant

Lord Marks QC (instructed by Horwich Farrelly Solicitors) for the defendant

Hearing dates: 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29 July 2015. Written submissions were complete on 6 November 2015.

Judgment including Annex 1 & 2

Mr Justice Walker

Table of Contents

A. Overview, outcome, background, concerns, issues

A1. Overview and outcome

A1.1 Overview: Christmas eve and the claim


This claim arises from events on a crucial day, 24 December 2011. In this judgment I refer to that crucial day simply as "Christmas eve". The claim relates to the use of force, and the threatened use of force, against the claimant, Mr Felix Wamala, by employees of the defendant, a company which has changed its name and is now known as Tascor Services Ltd. At the time of relevant events its name was Reliance Secure Task Management Limited.


The defendant was referred to as "Reliance" throughout these proceedings, and I shall do the same in this judgment. It did not dispute that, in the circumstances of the present case, it would be liable for legal wrongs committed by its employees. Accordingly, where it is convenient to do so and clear from the context that this is what I have done, I have from time to time used the abbreviation "Reliance" to include its employees. This and other abbreviations and short forms used in this judgment are set out in Annex 1.


In order to decide the claim the court must apply UK statutes, in particular the Immigration Act 1971 ("the 1971 Act") and the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 ("the 1999 Act"). The court must also apply fundamental principles of the common law of England and Wales.


In the present overview section A1.2 gives a brief description of some key documents, as a prelude to section A.1.3 which gives a nutshell account of events on Christmas eve. Section A1.4 gives an overview of the procedural history before, during and after the trial. In section A1.5 I deal with some preliminary matters concerning video extracts of CCTV recordings, and the report made by Ms Jenny Beck. Section A1.6 describes undisputed aspects of events during the period from 19:38 to 20:43 on Christmas eve. Section A1.7 gives more detail about the claim as advanced at trial.


Section A2 below deals with the background prior to 23 December 2011, while section A3 deals with background events on 23 December 2011 and on Christmas eve.


In section A4 I deal with beliefs and concerns which Mr Wamala described and which I consider shed much light on Mr Wamala's perception of events. Section A5 sets out the issues at trial.


Section B below deals with the course of the trial generally, and makes observations on the factual witnesses and expert witnesses. Section C deals with the legal framework. Section D analyses the evidence concerning Mr Wamala's mental health. Section E analyses the evidence concerning Mr Wamala's physical injuries. In section F I make findings as to what happened on Christmas eve. Section G deals with Mr Wamala's claim for damages, and section H summarises my conclusions.

A1.2 Overview: Mr Wamala's MS778 notice and his removal JR


In December 2011 Mr Wamala was in immigration detention at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre ("Brook House IRC"), located at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex. Brook House IRC was run by G4S, a private organisation, under contractual arrangements with the Home Office.


On 16 December 2011 Mr Wamala was given a notice issued by the United Kingdom Border Agency ("UKBA", part of the Home Office) informing him that directions had been given for his removal to Uganda. For reasons which will become apparent I shall refer to this notice as "Mr Wamala's MS778 notice".


Shortly before 2pm on 23 December 2011 Mr Wamala sent a fax to UKBA. It included a sealed copy of an application for permission to apply for judicial review ("Mr Wamala's removal JR"). Mr Wamala's removal JR had been issued by the Administrative Court earlier that day. The fax also included a covering letter referring to policy under which UKBA would "normally defer removal where a JR application has been properly lodged…". Relying on this policy Mr Wamala sought deferral of his removal.

A1.3 Overview: course of events on Christmas eve


Mr Wamala's MS778 notice stated that Mr Wamala was to be removed on flight MS778, scheduled to depart at 2pm on Christmas eve. "MS" is the code for EgyptAir. Flight MS778 was scheduled to depart from Terminal 3 at Heathrow airport. If Mr Wamala were to be removed on flight MS778 at its scheduled time of departure, then in the ordinary course he would have been collected from Brook House IRC mid-morning. It is difficult to see how he could be put on the flight at its scheduled departure time if he were collected from Brook House much later than noon. However noon came and went without him being collected. Indeed 2pm, the scheduled departure time, came and went without him being collected.


Reliance is a private contractor. From May 2011 onwards it provided immigration escort services under contractual arrangements with the Home Office. At around 3pm on Christmas eve, after flight MS778 had departed, Reliance employees asked for and took custody of Mr Wamala at Brook House. They transported him in their van to Heathrow. Their intention was that at Heathrow he, accompanied by 4 of the Reliance employees, would be put on Qatar Airways flight QR2 to Doha in order to connect with an onward flight to Uganda. Flight QR2 was scheduled to depart from Heathrow Terminal 4 at 8.30pm on Christmas eve. At Heathrow Terminal 4 they put Mr Wamala on an Airbus A340–600 aircraft ("the aircraft") used by Qatar Airways for flight QR2. A struggle occurred on board. Force was used by Reliance employees on Mr Wamala. The captain then refused to carry Mr Wamala. Reliance employees took Mr Wamala off the aircraft, put him in their van, and took him to Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre.

A1.4 Overview: procedural history


Mr Wamala brought the present proceedings against the Home Office as first defendant and Reliance as second defendant. He sought, among other things, aggravated and exemplary damages for defamation, negligence, false imprisonment, assault and battery, and personal injury. On 28 March 2014 Mr Justice Mitting ordered that a preliminary issue be tried of the following question ("the March 2014 question"):

Whether or not there was lawful justification for the use of force to convey the claimant to Heathrow airport or put him on or remove him from Qatar Airways flight QR2 to Doha on 24 December 2011.


On 20 June 2014, however, a different course was adopted. On that day Mrs Justice Patterson granted a declaration ("the June 2014 declaration") that:

… there was no valid removal direction for the Qatar Airways flight.


Also on 20 June 2014 Mrs Justice Patterson directed that determination of the March 2014 question be adjourned generally pending the trial of the present action. Among other ancillary directions provision was made to enable case management directions to be given for trial.


On 25 November 2014 a consent order was made as between Mr Wamala and the Home Office. Under that order, upon the giving of certain undertakings by the Home Office, Mr Wamala discontinued his claim against the Home Office. These proceedings have, since 25 November 2015, continued as a claim against Reliance alone.


Reliance did not, and does not, dispute the June 2014 declaration. Nevertheless it maintains that its employees were entitled use force against Mr Wamala in circumstances which are broadly described in section A1.5 below, and are described in more detail in later sections of this judgment.


At the trial before me Mr Tom Hickman, instructed by Deighton Pierce Glynn ("DPG", an abbreviation which I also use for its predecessor firms Deighton Guedalla and Pierce Glynn), appeared for Mr Wamala. Lord Marks QC, instructed by Horwich Farrelly, appeared for Reliance. Mr Wamala gave oral evidence. A number of other witnesses gave oral evidence for Reliance. Expert evidence, on orthopaedic and psychiatric matters respectively, was given by Mr Saeed Mohammad and Professor Cornelius Katona for Mr Wamala, and by Mr Stuart Matthews and Dr Darryl Britto for Reliance. Oral submissions by counsel were supplemented by written submissions and further written observations, which were completed on 6 November 2015. I thank the legal teams on both sides for the assistance which has been provided to me. The delay in producing this judgment has occurred as a result of illness on my part.

A1.5 Overview: CCTV evidence and the Beck report


As discussed in more detail in section B1 below, at the trial I was shown video extracts of CCTV footage recorded in the Reliance van. The sound quality of the video was variable. In relation to what was said, I was assisted by a document prepared by UKBA's Professional Standards Unit in response to a complaint to UKBA by Mr Wamala. A team led by Ms Sally Beck, investigating officer, in addition to seeking information from those who had witnessed events, assembled recordings made by the CCTV cameras in Reliance's van. A report ("the Beck report") was produced on 12 March 2012. Among other things it contained summaries of what could be seen and heard on the recordings. In subsequent sections of this judgment I refer to certain of these summaries.


There are four further things to mention about the Beck report and the CCTV evidence:

(1) Ms Beck, after examining Mr Wamala's complaint in...

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