ONE of The National’s team of journalists has been shortlisted for a prestigious award from the Scottish Refugee Council.

Greg Russell is on the shortlist for the Investigation section of the Refugee Festival Scotland Media Awards 2019 for his series of stories about Isabella Katjiparatijivi, a young asylum seeker from Namibia, who had been wrongfully detained at Dungavel.

The 29-year-old was detained after turning up for a regular appointment with the Home Office, despite a petition being lodged with the Court of Session to halt such a move.

Katjiparatijivi, a lesbian, had sought asylum in Scotland claiming that she faced persecution in Namibia because of her sexuality.

The UK Home Office at first claimed that elements of The National story were incorrect, saying: “We have not made any new removal directions or orders since Ms Katjiparatijivi submitted a Judicial Review to the Court of Session … There are no orders to remove Ms Katjiparatijivi on today’s date, the 19th of January.”

However, Russell had seen the removal directions and details of the flight on which Katjiparatijivi was due to be deported, proof that the Home Office had lied.

Two days after his first story appeared, the “non-existent” removal order was withdrawn and the following day the asylum seeker was released from Dungavel.

Her lawyer, Usman Aslam, was scathing about the Home Office: “It is one thing saying, ‘we have this position’ or ‘we have that position’. In the world of litigation that is what happens. It is another thing when you are looking at someone or speaking to someone and blatantly lying … They are saying there’s no removal directions – the document shows removal directions.”

Russell said: “This was shocking series of events which traumatised Isabella and brought into focus all too starkly the hostile environment that pervades the UK’s migration system.

“I’m very flattered to make the shortlist for this award and to play even a small part in highlighting such injustices.”