27th June 2014

The jury at the inquest into the death of 35 year old Brian Dalrymple concluded that his death was as a result of natural causes contributed by neglect. They detailed a catalogue of errors in his care and stated that the medical record keeping at Harmondsworth Immigration Detention centre was ‘shambolic’

Brian suffered from schizophrenia and had dangerously high blood pressure and was on medication for both. He arrived in the UK on 14 June 2011 as a tourist but was refused leave to enter because his behaviour was ‘odd’. UK Border Agency staff detained him in Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) pending removal back to the USA but he claimed asylum. A Chief Immigration Officer who gave evidence to the inquest said that he had only ever seen Americans do that when they were mentally ill.

Despite showing obvious signs of mental distress, and despite the fact that a Chief Immigration Officer attempted to flag up his concerns in relation for a need for a psychiatric assessment, no such assessment was ever carried out. Even when Brian refused the hypertensive medication which he desperately required, and his behaviour deteriorated and he was placed in segregation, still no assessment took place during his 6 weeks of detention.

Three and a half days before his death, Brian was transferred from Harmondsworth IRC to Colnbrook IRC which is run by serco. His medical records did not follow him to this detention centre. Although an appointment was made for him to see a psychiatrist, Brian died on 31 July 2011, before this appointment took place. His blood pressure had caused an aortic rupture.

This is the second critical inquest verdict into the death of an immigration detainee at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre. The jury at the inquest into the death of Muhammad Shukat who died there on 2 July 2011, 28 days before Brian, also concluded that neglect contributed to his death.

Lorraine Dalrymple, Brian’s mother said:

“In June of 2011 this man, my son Brian Dalrymple, would head off for a two week vacation in England. This decision would lead to a chain of events that would ultimately lead to Brian’s death. Because of Brian’s lack of necessary luggage and “uncooperative behaviour” he would be detained by the UK Immigration Services and placed in a detention centre. The UK Border Agency took away my son’s freedom that day and by placing him in a detention centre thereby accepting responsibility for his care. It would be a care so fragmented and disorganized that his mental condition would deteriorate to the point of him losing his dignity (behaving oddly, urinating in his cell, profanity, and paranoia) and finally due to lack of appropriate health care ultimately lead to his death. On July 31, 2011 a family would mourn the loss of their son.

"I have accepted my accountability regarding my son’s death. I ignored my mother’s intuition and listened to others regarding England not being a third world country and Brian being safe. I was told there were systems in place and that if anything was wrong the American Embassy would contact me and that I should allow Brian time to see England and Europe….that Brian would be home soon. This was a mistake I will have to live with for the rest of my life because the “systems” were broken; the American Embassy was never notified of his detention and no one in medical thought to call for his medical history. If I had known what I know now of what was happening, I’d have contacted everyone possible, done everything possible to help my son. My son did come home, but in a box.”

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

"This is a shocking death of a mentally and physically ill man who died in his cell as a result of corporate neglect and indifference. The catalogue of failings are not unique to this case but expose the plight of those held in immigration detention and the systemic neglect of detainees mental and physical ill health as evidenced by the high numbers of deaths, suicide attempts and self harm.”

INQUEST has been working with the family of Brian Dalrymple since his death. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Jocelyn Cockburn and Lucy Cadd from Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors and barrister Nick Armstrong from Matrix chambers.