Three G4S guards have been accused of forgery

A judge condemns them for being "well aware" that official documents were altered before a trial.

The case of "AB" vs The Home Secretary, heard at the High Court 30 October - November 1, looked like a pretty routine asylum claim (which was refused). But the judgement contains a rather surprising twist.

When AB was deported from Brook House removal centre to his home country, a removal certificate showed that "various paperwork" was packed up among his things. This certificate was later corruptly redacted, according to the judge, Justice Mostyn.

His judgement says:

"The original clean certificate was only produced by the Secretary of State following a request made by the claimant's solicitors after the doctored certificate has been produced in evidence as exhibits to the witness statements ... It is obvious that a semi-translucent piece of paper was placed over part of it when copies were made to obliterate the reference to "various paperwork" (as well as some other things of no consequence)...

I regret to have to find, but I must, that both of these witnesses were well aware that the certificate had been altered by somebody who felt that it was helpful to this defence to obliterate a reference to "various paperwork". I am doubtful whether these witnesses were actively complicit in what was an act of forgery but I am convinced that they knew more than they were letting on to me.

The conduct of the Secretary of State's agents in falsifying the room clearance certificate is corrupt and truly shocking. When agents of the state falsify documents it undermines, if not fatally, then certainly very seriously, the trust of the people in the operation of the rule of law. It makes no difference if, as here, the agents are private contractors to whom the Secretary of State has outsourced her powers. Corruption by state officials is insidious and corrosive and it is the duty of the authorities where it is found to root it out ruthlessly."

The judgement has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Following the jailing of Clive Carter, and the launch of a Serious Fraud Office inquiry into overcharging claims, could we be seeing more G4S staff up before the courts?

The Royal Courts of Justice in London. (Photo: Getty)

Alan White's work has appeared in the Observer, Times, Private Eye, The National and the TLS. As John Heale, he is the author of One Blood: Inside Britain's Gang Culture.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.