Conflicting accounts of death at a London immigration lock-up

Inmates at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre claim employee of commercial contractor GEO beat immigration detainee and left him naked in an unheated room. Police say there are no suspicious circumstances.

A 31 year-old Ghanaian man died last Tuesday (30 October) at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow Airport. Fellow detainees claim he was beaten by a guard employed by GEO Group, then stripped naked and abandoned in an unheated room.

Neither Florida-based GEO Group, who run Harmondsworth for the UK Border Agency, nor the Home Office, would comment on the statement from a group of Ghanaian detainees.

The detainees allege that the man, whom they named as Prince Ofosu, was subjected to “massive blows” by a GEO officer. They claim Ofosu was stripped naked in a room known as ‘the block’, and the heating system turned off.

“Prince Ofosu was left in the cold without even a duvet till his death 24 hours after being detained at the block,” said the detainees.

Scotland Yard confirmed today that police were called by Harmondsworth staff at about 2pm on Tuesday 30 October, reporting a “man collapsed”.

A police spokesman named the man as Ghanaian national Prince Kwanbeno Fosu, 31, and said: “the post-mortem examination gave the preliminary cause of death as natural causes, but the results of further tests are awaited.” He added “There was no evidence of violence or third party restraint,” and said the death was being treated as "non-suspicious".

An inquest is due to open at West London Coroner’s Court tomorrow.

About the author

Clare Sambrook, novelist and journalist. Co-editor of OurKingdom and co-founder of End Child Detention Now. Winner of Paul Foot Award and Bevins Prize for outstanding investigative journalism in 2010. Orwell Prize nominee in 2013.