Family of man who died after being deported blame Home Office delays

<span>Sudharsan Ithayachandran left behind his wife, Subatra Sudharsan, son Priyan and daughter Priyanka. All three are British citizens.</span><span>Photograph: Family handout</span>
Sudharsan Ithayachandran left behind his wife, Subatra Sudharsan, son Priyan and daughter Priyanka. All three are British citizens.Photograph: Family handout

The family of a man who died abroad after being wrongly deported by the UK Home Office have blamed the department for causing delays that stopped him being reunited with his children.

Sudharsan Ithayachandran, 41, was deported from the UK to Sri Lanka on 24 December 2019 – his wedding anniversary – after admitting to working illegally at Tesco and using false documents.

He left behind his devastated wife, Subatra Sudharsan, 41, who is profoundly deaf, his son Priyan, nine, and daughter Priyanka, eight. All three are British citizens. His mother-in-law, Yasadora Nagendra, 60, whom he cared for, described him as “the pillar of the family”.

In an immigration tribunal ruling in November 2023, Judge Bonavero accepted his appeal – arguing that he had a right to family life in the UK with his wife and children.

The Home Office did not appeal against the ruling but delayed making arrangements to process his visa to return to the UK for several months and he was forced to remain in dangerous conditions in Sri Lanka. The family is of Tamil heritage.

It was only when Naga Kandiah of MTC Solicitors started judicial review proceedings against the Home Office about the delay that officials began processing his return to the UK earlier this month, issuing an apology letter and blaming it on backlogs in the department.

The letter said the delay was not the fault of officials. On 19 May, Ithayachandran was found collapsed at his accommodation in Sri Lanka and died after being taken to hospital. His cause of death is thought to be sepsis. His family said he was in a deep depression in Sri Lanka due to his separation from his children for almost half of their lives, and was not eating or looking after himself properly.

Nagendraadded: “I don’t know how the family is ever going to get over this. When he was here, he looked after everybody. He was such a kind and supportive man. Nobody can replace him. I believe that if the Home Office had not deported him he would still be alive today. We blame them for his death.

“He was treated in a very unfair way by the Home Office. He was so depressed that even after he won his case last November, [the] Home Office delayed making arrangements for his return to the UK. He couldn’t understand why he still had to wait to come back to his family. “

Lou Calvey, the director of the charity Asylum Matters, said: “Serious questions must be answered about this heartbreaking case; why was Sudharsan deported when he had such clear rights to remain here; why did Home Office delay implementing the court ruling reversing the deportation; and why did he have to die alone without his family?”

Kandiah said: “The tribunal accepted our client had a genuine and subsisting relationship with his children and to live without them would be ‘unduly harsh’. He had spent years battling with the Home Office to simply rejoin his family. He finally won his case but died before he could do this.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All deportation orders are considered on a case-by-case basis, based on the evidence provided.

“Once an appeal has been allowed against the refusal to revoke a deportation order, the responsibility of applying for entry clearance to the UK lies with the individual and their representatives.”