Appendix to ILPA Memorandum to the Public Bill Committee on the UK Borders Bill
Case of Sakchai Makao:
1. In Mr Makao's appeal, a panel of three immigration judges considered "whether deportation is the right course on the merits [by balancing] the public interest... against any compassionate circumstances". The immigration judges then considered the following factors: (i) age; (ii) length of residence in the UK; (iii) strength of connections with the UK; (iv) personal history, including character, conduct and employment records; (v) domestic circumstances; (vi) previous criminal record, nature of offence [we note that here they stated: "The panel unhesitatingly accepted that it was a serious offence"]; and (vii) compassionate circumstances. The immigration judges concluded:
"...even though we pay very serious regard to the decision of the Secretary of State we have unhesitatingly come to the conclusion that the balancing exercise we are required to perform... leads inevitably to the conclusion that the decision to deport was wrong and the appeal must be allowed."
2. In brief, the facts of this case were as follows. Sakchai Makao was born in Thailand on 10 December 1982. When a few months old, his father died; and when still at a young age his mother married a British citizen and moved to the UK. In September 1993, he and his sister were granted indefinite leave to enter to join his mother (he was 10 years old). In 1994, the family moved to Shetland. After school, he became a lifeguard at the community sports complex. He obtained a number of qualifications in relation to this; and remained in employment in an increasingly senior capacity until his imprisonment in January 2004. His offence was of culpable and reckless fire raising to which he pleaded guilty and for which he received a 15 month sentence [we note that this would bring him within both categories to which the provisions in this Bill apply]. On his release, he returned to his former employment.
3. The decision to deport him precipitated mass protest amongst his community in Shetland. A petition was signed by over 8,000 Shetlanders, with a further 3,000 names on-line; and a determined campaign against the deportation was led by church leaders and other high profile members of the community, with witnesses ultimately travelling to North Shields to give evidence at his appeal.
4. His offence occurred after he had become seriously drunk on learning of the news that his father (the British man his mother had married, but in effect the only father he had ever had) had been diagnosed with cancer - his father subsequently died. It was accepted that so far as the offence was concerned he had been led astray by another who took the leading part in the events. He pleaded guilty; and it was accepted he was very remorseful and posed no serious risk of re-offending. As regards the prospect of return to Thailand, whereas he was no longer dependent upon his mother (being an adult at the time of the offence, let alone decision to deport), he did not speak Thai and had no subsisting knowledge or connection to that country.