Former Campsfield detainee sentenced to 32 months prison after admitting arson

PRESS RELEASE 1 April 2014

Former Campsfield detainee sentenced to 32 months prison after admitting arson

Farid Pardiaz, 25, from Afghanistan was sentenced today by Judge Mowat
in Oxford Crown Court to 32 months in prison after pleading guilty to
committing simple arson at Campsfield detention centre on 18 October

Judge Mowat stated that Mr Pardiaz appeared to have had mixed motives
for setting light to bedding in his room, from which fire spread into
the roof space of Blue Block at the centre. He had wished both to kill
himself and also to show the authorities how strongly he felt that he
should not be returned to Afghanistan, where he feared for his life.

Judge Mowat accepted that Mr Pardiaz had not meant to cause the damage
and losses estimated by outgoing centre manager Paul Morrison of
Mitie, which runs the centre, as mounting to over £900,000, but she
nevertheless had to take the high cost into account in deciding the

No mention was made by judge in sentencing or by defence of the fact
that Mr Pardiaz had been refused a request to see a doctor in the days
running up to the fire, when, as a psychiatric report stated, Mr
Pardiaz was experiencing a depressive episode. Nor was it mentioned
that very little damage at all would have been caused if the Home
Office had carried out the recommendations of the Oxon Fire Service
and fitted sprinklers in the centre – a fact for which the Home Office
alone bears the responsibility.

After he has served his time, which with remission and time already
served may be some 12-15 months, the government will seek to deport Mr
Pardiaz, who is currently held in Bullingdon Prison.

Contacts: Bill 01865 558145, Liz 07791 738 577

Campaigners protest as Home Office plans to double size of Campsfield

PRESS RELEASE 28 March 2014

Campaigners protest as Home Office plans to double size of Campsfield

Home Office officials have stated that the government plans to
increase the capacity of Campsfield Immigration Removal Centre from
the present 260 (when Blue Block, closed by the October 2013 fire,
reopens and the current expansion of numbers by packing in more beds
into the same area is complete) by 250 to 510 beds. A Mitie employee
at Campsfield stated this week that the figure is 350 (total 610).

In February, Mitie won a £180m bid to run Colnbrook and Harmondsworth
detention centres near Heathrow airport over the next eight years,
starting from September 2014. This makes Mitie the Home Office’s
leading provider of immigration detention services, less than three
years after ‘entering the market’, to quote its press release.

Only five months ago, Campsfield, run by Mitie, was ravaged by a major
fire[i] that spread due to an absence of sprinklers, according to the
Chief Fire Officers Association.

Campaign to Close Campsfield member Bill MacKeith said: “Mitie’s
shareholders may be rubbing their hands. But what can we say of a
‘leader in property maintenance’[ii] happy to take over a detention
centre not fitted with fire sprinklers? Last October’s fire was the
inevitable outcome, as the Oxon Fire Service predicted. Since Mitie
took over, Campsfield’s history of mass hunger strikes, suicide and
attempted suicides has run on.”

Some of those detained will be ‘foreign national prisoners’ who have
served a prison sentence and now await deportation. According to the
shocking report[iii] published today by the Independent Chief
Inspector of Borders and Immigration, the average immigration
detention time for such people is 18 months to 2 years.

Bill MacKeith said: ‘Such scandalously long detention, strongly
condemned in the report, is NOT a reason to expand what the government
doublespeak calls the “detention estate”.’

Demonstration 12 noon Saturday 29 March 2014

At Campsfield main gates, Langford Lane, Kidlington OX5 1RE

Contacts: Bill 01865 558145, Liz 07791 738 577, Gill 01993 703994


[i] Farid Pardiaz appears in Oxford Crown Court on 1 April charged
with arson on 17 October 2013 at Campsfield.

[ii] Mitie website: ‘We combine our in-depth knowledge of fire safety
and buildings regulations with a detailed understanding of your exact
requirements … Our fire protection services are high-quality,
competitively-priced, and technologically advanced, and we’re
committed to sustainable business practices.’ ‘Your fire prevention
and business security systems are part of your building’s life support
system; we’ll make sure they keep you safe.’



Approx. 200 people attended the 20th anniversary demonstration at Campsfield on Saturday 30th November for a noisy demo showing solidarity with those locked inside as well as anger and frustration at the ongoing existence of this unjust prison for migrants.

Music was provided by a 25-strong samba band with an impromptu performance in Oxford later, raising awareness in town too about Campsfield and the strength of opposition to it.

The weekend also involved a moving and thought provoking performance of the Asylum Monologues on Friday night, attended by 80 people, and workshops on Saturday afternoon and Sunday to discuss how to go forward to close Campsfield and all immigration detention centres.

Thanks to everyone involved, including Rhythms of Resistance, Ice and Fire, Oxford Migrant Solidarity, Oxford Trades Council, SOAS Detainee Support, Corporate Watch, Hackney Migrant Support, Coventry Trades Council, Warwick University STAR, Amnesty International, Migreurop, the makers of the soup, and especially former detainees for sharing their experiences.


Ice and Fire – Asylum Monologues

Please note new venue – now Christ Church


20 YEARS TOO LONG! Demo and weekend details

Please note new venues for Ice and Fire Performance on Friday 29 Nov and workshops on Satruday 30 Nov after the demo.

(Sorry for any confusion, the change was out of our control.)






‘what kind of country allows its government to lock up innocent people in a ‘prison’ that even the fire officials say is unsafe?’ where is the UK’s tradition of human rights now?’ says Liz Peretz,Member of the Campaign to Close Campsfield.
In the latest of a series of fires in UK immigration detention centres, two people from Campsfield House, at Kidlington, near Oxford have been hospitalised. This must call our attention, yet again, to the Home Office ‘duty of Care’ towards the people held in Immigration detention in this country.

The Chief Fire Officers’ Association press release following the incident makes it clear that the Home Office has continued to ignore their recommendation to fit sprinklers in Campsfield, thus endangering the lives of all those inside

IRCs are a high fire risk, not because of the nature of the people locked up, but because the doors are locked, the buildings are behind high fences, access is often inadequate and often poor construction. What kind of society puts people in its care knowingly in such danger?

We read, appalled, of loss of life and injury during fires in nightclubs, or the collapse of factories abroad, thinking this would not happen here – but this latest incident – and the ones before, at Campsfield, at Yarl’s Wood and at Harmondsworth, are all similarly the result of ‘cutting corners’.

Despite the lesson of Yarl’s Wood, where fire spread because there were no sprinklers, and despite the advice of the CFOA in 2007 that they should be fitted at Campsfield, this was not done.

The people – migrants – who have endured these incidents have already, many of them, endured too much – persecution before they arrived in the UK, hardship – certainly – since their arrival, and the bewildering violence of being thrown into arbitrary detention.

It is long past time for the government to review their policy of immigration detention, and at the same time take their duty to care for the people they arbitrarily detain seriously.

As a first step, they should request a thorough inspection of all the detention estate by the Chief Fire Officers Association, and act on their recommendations immediately, before another disaster occurs.


Letter to the Oxford Times

Dear Sir,

Recent tragic events in Lampedusa caused international concern when hundreds of migrants were drowned. The instability in their countries has driven people to risk making perilous journeys towards Europe, often in vessels that are entirely unsafe.

At last humanitarian issues and the needs of these migrants are being acknowledged.

But look closer to home, to Oxfordshire.

You may have noticed reporting of the fire at Campsfield House IRC, (Immigration Removal Centre) near Kidlington, on Friday night. People are locked up there, often for months, years in some cases, prior to being removed or deported. There is no time limit. The distress, depression, loss of hope and despair detainees go through is well documented. Their detention is purely administrative, for the convenience of the Home Office. Human rights are ignored to make the statistics look ‘good’, regardless of what happens when they are sent back. Many have had no legal representation, have never had their case properly heard, are not believed.

Between January and June this year 52 detainees attempted suicide and 251 self harmed across the whole estate. These figures are the worst ever recorded.

Hostility not humanity is the attitude encouraged by Teresa May in her recent speech in the House of Commons, introducing the new Immigration Bill. Her words encouraged xenophobia and fear and hatred of migrants who come here to escape persecution or in some cases to get work, often to send money home to enable their families to survive.

How is it that this and other IRCs remain open, at enormous expense to the tax payer and often irreparable human cost to the detainees, without appearing to be to be a matter of public shame or even debate? Are we not concerned?

Gill Baden (Campaign to Close Campsfield)