Australia

Minister to appeal ruling detention of asylum seeker was ‘criminal

Morrison government MP Alan Tudge has launched an appeal to the full Federal Court in which he is challenging a scathing ruling in which a judge described his detention of an asylum seeker as “criminal”.The matter has been set down for a hearing in February next year after a Federal Court judge in October slammed…

Morrison government MP Alan Tudge has launched an appeal to the full Federal Court in which he is challenging a scathing ruling in which a judge described his detention of an asylum seeker as “criminal”.

The matter has been set down for a hearing in February next year after a Federal Court judge in October slammed the then acting Immigration Minister’s conduct as “disgraceful” and said that he had opened himself up to criminal and civil sanctions.

In March this year the 34-year-old Afghani man, known as PDWL, was awarded a protection visa by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal after appealing an earlier Department of Home Affairs decision.

The minister opposed the man’s application for a visa on character grounds because of a criminal conviction and immediately appealed the decision.

Despite the AAT’s finding, PDWL was kept in detention at Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia from March 11 to March 17.

He was eventually released after the minister was ordered by the Federal court.

Justice Geoffrey Flick said that while the Administrative Appeals Tribunal made the incorrect decision to award PDWL the visa, he concluded: “the minister has acted unlawfully. His actions have unlawfully deprived a person of his liberty.”

Justice Flick added: “The conduct of the Minister in this case, on just about any view, has been disgraceful.”

At the time a spokeswoman for Mr Tudge said that he: “strongly rejects any suggestion of improper conduct in these proceedings”.

PDWL has launched civil proceedings against the Australian government in the Federal Court and during a case management hearing on Tuesday, the court heard that he was suing for unlawful detention, claiming misfeasance in public office and negligence.

The court also heard that the minister was appealing Justice Flick’s decision to the full federal court and that decision could impact PDWL’s civil case.

“It may well be that if the full court determines that contention (that PDWL’s detention) was lawful, that the honours’ determination will likely have an impact on, at the very least, the unlawful detention cause of actions in these proceedings,” the government’s barrister Bora Kaplan told the court.

The court also heard on Tuesday that the minister was seeking to tender fresh evidence in his Federal Court appeal, however it remains unclear what that would entail.

Barrister Min Guo, acting for PDWL, told the court that his client was open to entering mediation with the government.

He also criticised the government’s lawyers for not having filed a statement of defence, despite having filed their statement of claim in October.

Justice Angus Stewart ordered that the government file a statement of defence by January 29 with the matter to return to court on March 4.

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