United Kingdom Border Agency / harassment, unreasonable detention

1 England, Greater London, United Kingdom Review updated:
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The UK Border Agency are targeting people for unreasonable detention, probably based on race and appearance. Here is my story:

UK Border Agency
South Terminal
Gatewick Airport

Re: GAT 3029754

Harassment and unreasonable search and detention for seven hours of a native U.S. citizen studying at Oxford University

Dear UKBA,

On the morning of January 4, 2010 your female employee S. Judra (?) and her supervisor
treated me like a suspected criminal or terrorist upon my arrival to the UK and started a chain of events that nearly caused my summary expulsion from the country.

Upon my landing at Gatwick, Judra asked me questions about my occupation but did not accept my answers and demanded proof of my enrollment at Oxford even though I am not required to be a student there to enter the UK. Indeed, as a US person I do not need a visa at all to enter the UK, nor do we require visas from you.

Judra falsely claimed to her supervisor that I refused to answer her questions, therefore creating a pretext to detain me.

My bags and person were subject to multiple and meticulous searches; my notebooks, papers, cell phone and books were taken away to be read for special examination and I was forced to be examined by a medical doctor and be fingerprinted and photographed by Mr. Mooney multiple times. I received a "NOTICE TO DETAINEE REASONS FOR DETENTION AND BAIL RIGHTS." I was detained in a room with detainees from Arab and African countries.

Your agents went through my pockets and wallet and repeatedly asked me about my cash money and finances. They read my personal papers. Is this how democratic countries behave towards people not suspected of a crime? Do you think it is legal to behave this way because I am not British? Do you think that certain people are automatically suspect, even those born in the USA? Do you think you can treat law-abiding American citizens this way?

Even though I asked Judra to contact Oxford University and provided her with a phone number, she and her supervisor continued their investigation and were determined to find a reason to bar me from the UK. They behaved like little Fascist dictators and scolded another detainee for lending me her cell phone so I could cry for help to Oxford University.

Later, Judra told me she had confirmed my enrollment at Oxford, but she lied. She then went home for the day without resolving my release. She left my open case to Mr. Hutton.

Oxford University staff pleaded with Mr. Hutton and I was released in the afternoon after a third personal interview.


Please contact me if you have had similar experiences.

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  • Uk
      10th of Jan, 2011

    UKBA are a rogue organization that are extremely racist, and they harass many people this way. I have been through harassment at UK borders many times too and each time they let me enter after their ridiculous questions - I would say best is to avoid that horrible country now like I do.. even the US has immigrants but I was never once treated badly at US airports - but in the UK - it happens all the time. I am a high networth individual and have boycotted the UK completely - I was going to invest in a business there and create jobs - but after the way Ive been treated by them I took my money elsewhere - don't worry its only a matter of time before many others like me get fed up of the British "attitude" towards foreigners and take our money / business elsewhere and then see how the UK economy collapses. UK is a filthy country to live or visit anyway... go to the rest of Europe as they don't treat anyone so badly on the continent.

    0 Votes
  • El
      15th of Apr, 2012

    I am a UK citizen married to a wonderful man from an Asian Pacific country (a developed one, not that it should really matter). Due to our marriage he was granted ''indefinate leave to remain'', in other words, a permanent right to live and work in the UK (according to the UKBA helpline). About a year into moving (back-in my case) to the UK, we decided to take a short break in Holland, as I have a friend there, and hubby loves art. We had a wonderful time there, but it was ruined by our experience at Bristol airport when coming back from our holiday.

    After I went through the gate for UK citizens, I decided to wait right by the booths housing immigration officers that check foreign nationals coming into the country, just in case he has to call me over for support. Unfortunately, I was out of earshot but according to my husband, it went something like this:

    Hubby hands his passport over, open at the page of his visa (which clearly states its type, and that it is due to marriage to a UK national). Officer does not even look at this page, and begins the inquisition.
    ''where are you from?' 'I'm from xxx
    ''Why are you here?'' ''I live and work here with my wife. She's British''.
    ''On your way to London, are you?'' ''No, I am on my way home, in xxx'' (which is nowhere near London).
    ''why do you live there?'' ''Because I work there. I live there with my wife''
    The office continues to eyes him up and down suspiciously. After a long, horrible, tense pause, the officer rudely waves him through the gate, and hubby joins me on the other side.

    Hubby immediately begin telling the story of what happened. Furious, I was all for asking to speak to Manager. The visa clearly states that he has a right to enter and remain, and that he is here due to being married to a UK National. However hubby refused to let me make an issue of it, so we just went home, all the while wondering if this kind of thing is going to happen everytime we go on holiday.

    This is no longer an issue because we moved back to his country (no suprise there), but I will never forget the annoyance and embarassment of the situation. I understand that it was not nearly as bad as many others have experienced, but for a horrible moment, hubby thought that he was going to be prevented from entering, despite his visa, and we would be seperated.

    As a Brit, I can say that it was wise not to bother with investing in the UK. How you are treated at the airport is actually a strong reflection on how you will be treated as a non-Western European foreigner in general in the UK, both socially and in business, except it will be more covert. I will not go into detail as to why I say this, but I base this on observations on how my intelligent, well-educated, highly-skilled, and very affable husband was treated whilst there.

    To the OP, I would be curious to know if you got a response from the UKBA. You probably didn't. If not, it might be worth complaining to the newspapers, though they may not listen either.

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