The Home Office has agreed to pay nearly £6,000 as part of a settlement to an EU citizen it detained at the border in a post-Brexit crackdown on Europeans entering the country last year.
Miro Matos, a Slovak who has lived in the UK for 18 years, was so furious with his treatment in Calais that he took legal action after officials detained him for 10 hours, alleging he was using a false name and that he had not declared a driving offense when he applied. for established status in the EU.
“I thought, ‘Have they lost their minds?’ I did not enter through a floating door. I drive by car. I understand when there is human error, but everything they said about me was rubbish,” he said.
“I’ve traveled the world, but this is the rudest approach I’ve ever known,” he said.
When he asked to see the border agent’s notes in preparation for a complaint, he was shocked to see that the authorities had written that he had tried to “smuggle someone in”.
In a pre-action response in November, the Home Office confirmed his records should also have shown he had a right to be in the country – not only had he established his status, but three months earlier, the Home Office had approved his application to become a British citizen. , inviting him to a naturalization ceremony 10 days after his detention.
Correspondence from the Home Office after his complaint acknowledged “that the detention was unjustified given your UK residency status. Your status should have been known to staff at the time of your detention.
He agreed the ‘compensation’ was ‘appropriate’ and initially made an offer of £2,000, but last week agreed to a settlement of £5,750.
But he declined the offer after a complaint in which he said “it’s quite difficult to stand up to a company that uses lies as a tool of their trade”.
He also said it was important to have the detention record cleared so that he would not be detained every time he returned home from travel.
Matos’ nightmare began at 6.40pm one evening last May as he returned home from a visit to his Covid-vulnerable mother in Slovakia.
He was detained with a Brazilian friend who was returning to London to collect his luggage before returning to Rio de Janeiro.
Officials confiscated their phones, took their luggage, and despite numerous requests did not tell Matos what was happening until 3:30 a.m. the next morning.
Matos, 42, the general manager of a restaurant on Chancery Lane in London, said he understood border officials have to check documents but did not expect such hostility.
“I knew I had done nothing wrong,” he said. “But no matter how many times I asked them what was going on, they said nothing. They put us in a back room with a little rug and a blanket. They gave us a mask.
“Our phones were confiscated. Our luggage. I said you could open the car, look at everything, but I just want someone to talk to me and tell me what was wrong.
“No one came until about 3:30 a.m. when they started asking me random questions. When they asked me for a pseudonym, I said, ‘What are you talking about? I never used another name in my life.
It turned out that the Home Office had a misspelled version of his name, Matios, instead of Matos.
He said he was ‘not proud’ of the driving offence, which happened 16 years ago and was in any case legally passed, and claimed border officials had said that they could cancel its established status.
After filing a subject access request to obtain Home Office records, he was delighted to be reminded that he had declared the offense in his application for established status.
“I can understand they have to check things out but the normal approach is, ‘This is what we think, tell us your side of the story, let’s see the facts’, but in Calais this woman was just trying to ‘write a report that she wanted to write rather than the facts she heard,’ he said.
The Home Office has been approached for comment.