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Home Office rapped over stalker error
Updated 10:33am Wednesday 9th July 2014 in News
Home Office failings left a violent stalker free to terrorise a Brighton doctor and her family, a watchdog has found.
The government department will pay £130,000 in compensation to Alison Hewitt and her family after ignoring their warnings about Al Amin Dhalla, who was in the UK on a visa.
The Canadian national started harassing the Hewitts in December 2010 after Dr Hewitt broke off their engagement, setting fire to her mother’s home and armed himself with a crossbow.
The 44-year-old was arrested repeatedly for harassment before being eventually jailed in June 2011 for a minimum six years.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has said much of the harassment could have been averted if the Home Office had stopped Dhalla from returning to the UK.
Its report published yesterday said: “On balance, we decided that the events leading to Mr M’s arrest in April 2011 would not have happened without the Home Office’s serious mistakes.”
Dr Hewitt’s mother first emailed the Home Office in November 2010 to say the family had uncovered Dhalla’s criminal record in Canada for serious violence and use of aliases.
But officials did nothing to stop Dhalla returning to the UK from holiday that month.
Police found a loaded crossbow, large knife and fuel-soaked envelope in his car after his arrest in April 2011 at Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath, where Dr Hewitt worked and where he was caught posing as a doctor.
The ombudsman found the Home Office had failed to uncover lies on his 2009 visa application, logged the family’s first email too late to act on it, effectively lost two follow-ups and failed to pass information onto police.
A Home Office spokesperson told The Argus yesterday the Home Office has apologised to the family and accepted all of the watchdog’s recommendations.