Early indications say Morton Hall death was suicide

Early reports suggest the death of a detainee in Morton Hall was the result of suicide, Politics.co.uk understands.

Rubel Ahmed, a 26-year-old Bangladeshi man, died at the immigration detention centre earlier this month, triggering protests inside and outside the institution.

The next day detention staff were forced to retreat behind the fence and bring in a tornado unit to bring the centre back under their control. Earlier this week protests were held outside the Home Office in London over the death.

Detainees said Ahmed has been complaining of a pain in his chest and repeatedly used the alarm bell and kicked the door of his cell to get attention, but that none came. Authorities claimed the death was a suicide.

Investigations are currently being undertaken by the coroners and the prisons and probation ombudsman.

A letter, seen by Politics.co.uk, has been handed to detainees telling them they both suggest the death was a suicide.

It reads:

"Early indications are that there are no suspicious circumstances about the death and that sadly he did take his own life.

"Records have been checked and there is no evidence he has been banging on his door or ringing his room bell prior to his death for assistance

"There is information to suggest some detainees are still angry with the way they are being treated by the Home Office and we would encourage you to encourage those detainees to speak with their local Home Office team, or their case manager and staff directly. It would wrong of them to use the sad death to demonstrate about their own cases.

"It continues to be a sad time but you are encouraged to discuss this issue with your personal officers, the religious affairs team or the Samaritans via the dedicated phone on your unit if you are not coping and need additional support."

Ahmed had not come to the authorities' attention as a suicide risk ahead of the day, but that is not unusual. Many suicides come from inmates who are not under suicide watch.

Some detainees report being told Ahmed committed suicide using a TV cable in the shower – an act which they say would have been impossible. But other official sources have questioned the hanging account.

However, even guards at the centre do not necessarily trust the authorities' account of events.

One told Poltics.co.uk earlier this month:

"They are fucking liars. They don't tell the truth, not by a long way. I've been in this job a long time and I know it's a load of bollocks. We're being told no-one is in the frame for this.

"Whatever the truth is, it's never going to come out. We won't even look at it. How will we ever know if he pressed his bell or not? We'll never know. They're saying he didn't and it's as simple as that."

As I've written before, the two accounts of the death are just two different ways to placing the responsibility on the Home Office. If it's true he called for help and died of something related to the pain in his chest, it is negligence.

But even if the death was due to suicide, it remains the fault of the Home Office. When you take vulnerable people and imprison them, away from home, without having committed a crime, for an indeterminate period of time, around former prisoners, some people are going to break.

The manner in which the investigations are being conducted is also unsatisfactory. Authorities at the centre are being held responsible by some inmates for the death, but they continue to act as the conduit for news from the coroners and the prisons and probation ombudsman. For obvious and very good reasons, detainees will be resistant to trusting information from the same people they accuse of failing Ahmed in the first place.