AN AMERICAN Shakespeare scholar living in Stratford when he was nearly deported has spoken out about his nightmare experience.
Dr Paul Hamilton has lived, worked and studied in the UK for the past nine years earning his PhD from the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute last year.
But in mid-January he was arrested by immigration officers at his apartment opposite Trinity Church. Officers said his application to stay in the country had been denied and the scholar believes they thought he would try to evade removal from the UK.
The 42-year-old was released ten days later, after an outcry in the national press. He was told to return to the US where he now lives – but hopes to return to Britain in the very near future.
Since his ordeal he has penned a blog post telling of his experience of being arrested by immigration officers and taken to Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre near Lincoln – one of 12 such centres across the country.
He said: “On my first day in prison, I was in such a state of shock that I forgot to eat all day and arrived late to dinner.
“Two Pakistani prisoners, who served the food that night, were well within their rights – after a long day of work – to deny me dinner. Instead, they opened the locked door to the cafeteria, invited me in, and handed me a full platter of lentil dahl – and even gave me a small scoop of ice-cream. As I sat down in my cell with that food, I wept.”
Mr Hamilton describes his cell at the immigration removal centre as the ‘size of a large closet’ which police could peer into at any time.
He was also stripped of all of his belongings, except for his clothes, glasses and was given a basic mobile phone.
The scholar describes his experience as ‘haunting’ and says he felt as though he was an ‘insect’ at the facility.
He said: “During my imprisonment at Morton Hall I was never accused of committing any crime or breaking any rule. I was neither a criminal nor innocent. I was merely one of the ‘swarm’.”
After a successful petition was started, Mr Hamilton left the centre ten days later. He had four days to fly back to America.
He said: “I want to thank all those who contacted their MP’s on my behalf, signed the petition, contacted the press and enquired after my wellbeing. I am deeply grateful to you all.”
Visit kingstonshakespeareseminar.wordpress.com to read Mr Hamilton’s full blog post.