Sham marriage fears behind search of phone at airport

Stock image

Tim Healy

An immigration officer at Dublin Airport was entitled to look at a man's text messages which led the official to believe he was here to enter into a marriage of convenience, the High Court has ruled.

The Pakistani man arrived in October last year with a visa and was interviewed by the officer who then examined his phone. He claimed he was here to visit his brother.

He was refused permission to land and taken to Cloverhill Prison. Four days later, he was removed from Ireland.

He brought proceedings against the Justice Minister and gardai in a bid to quash the decision to refuse him permission to enter the State, and sought a declaration that the search of his phone breached his European Convention rights.


He also complained about his detention and the conditions under which he was held at Cloverhill.

Mr Justice Max Barrett refused to grant the reliefs he sought.

He said the notion that the immigration officer took an irrelevant consideration into account when making his decision to refuse landing came from a reference in the officer's notebook to "Brother's sham marriage".

The judge found the notebook contained "but a record" of the immigration officer's conversation with the man as well as thoughts arising.

In relation to conditions at Cloverhill, the judge said that, while prison "doubtless is not pleasant", there was no evidence to suggest the conditions breached his human rights.