Canada rejects father over skinhead friends

Former British army cook fights immigration ruling keeping him from his wife and son

National Post/November 14, 2001
By Robert Remington

Calgary -- Once or twice a month in the mid-1990s, Scott Denton-James would drink beer at a London East End pub, a hangout frequented by working-class youths like himself that occasionally featured the racist music of ultra-right skinhead groups such as Screwdriver and Razor's Edge.

The bands' messages of white power resonated with the disaffected young people in the East End and outlying townships of Essex who felt they were being swamped by a wave of non-European immigration.

It was at the Sun pub in 1994 that Mr. Denton-James met Charlie Sargent, founder of Britain's Combat 18, a neo-Nazi group that takes its name from the numerical position of Adolf Hitler's initials in the alphabet -- "1" and "8." Mr. Denton-James once even went to Sargent's house and admits he was a "hanger-on" to the skinhead scene.

But drinking beer with neo-Nazi sympathizers seven years ago doesn't make him a terrorist, says Mr. Denton-James, a former British army cook who has been denied entry into Canada to be with his wife and son because of his alleged involvement with members of Combat 18.

Canadian Immigration officials insist Mr. Denton-James was a member of the group, which was implicated in a 1999 nail-bomb attack on a black neighbourhood in London.

Scotland Yard, however, says it has no interest in Mr. Denton-James, according to Henry Beaumont, a Calgary lawyer working on an appeal filed by Lucy Denton-James to get her husband into Canada.

Her uncle, retired Canadian general John de Chastelain, chairman of the international commission that several weeks ago secured the disarmament of the Irish Republican Army, has written a letter of reference on Mr. Denton-James' behalf to Elinor Caplan, the Minister of Immigration.

Mr. Denton-James has no criminal record and U.S. authorities have no problem admitting him into the United States, said Mr. Beaumont, who was unsuccessful in getting Mr. Denton-James into Canada on compassionate grounds to bury his stillborn twin son [...] last February.

Ms. Denton-James gave premature birth several days after [one son's] death to the surviving twin, [...], whom Mr. Denton-James met for the first time in June by travelling from London to meet his wife and child in the border town of Bellingham, Wash.

The couple, both 31, met in 1992 when Mr. Denton-James was stationed with the British army in Alberta. He entered Canada without incident six times between 1993 and May, 1997, when, arriving in Canada for his wedding, he was detained and informed he was wanted by CSIS and Interpol for questioning.

According to Mr. Beaumont, the red flags were raised when Sargent, serving a life sentence for murder in Britain, falsely accused Mr. Denton-James and others of being Combat 18 members in order to get prison privileges.

In September, 1997, Mr. Denton-James co-operated with the RCMP in two interviews to clear his name, denying he was ever a Combat 18 member and calling its members "a bunch of thugs." He also agreed to a polygraph test. An RCMP letter dated May 20, 1999, says of the polygraph: "the answers you provided indicated you were truthful on those issues."

During the RCMP interviews, Mr. Denton-James admitted to knowing Sargent "by association," which an Immigration officer concluded to mean, and noted in his file, that "he admitted to being an associate member of Combat 18 for 12 years." A transcript of the interview shows no such admission by Mr. Denton-James.

Mr. Beaumont believes Immigration is refusing to acknowledge it made a mistake and is trying to save face. "Sometimes, it becomes more important to win the case," he said.

Immigration now claims to have secret and "highly sensitive" information about Mr. Denton-James that, under the Canadian Immigration Act, it does not have to disclose either to Mr. Denton-James or his lawyer.

Immigration will present this new evidence in-camera at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 23.

"If this is national security, I'll eat my shirt. He's a carpenter and a cook who wants to make a better life for himself. If he was a risk, he'd be of interest to authorities in Britain, and he is not," Mr. Beaumont said.

Danielle Sarazin, an Immigration spokesman, said the department cannot comment on specific cases.

Mr. Beaumont suspects Mr. Denton-James is being blackballed by members of his former military regiment because he reported an arms smuggling ring within his ranks while stationed in Germany in the early 1990s. Mr. Denton-James was beaten in his barracks for informing on his comrades and granted a medical discharge due to stress. His service record list his military conduct as "very good."

Raised in a broken home and raped when he was 14, Mr. Denton-James told the RCMP he hung out with neo-Nazi sympathizers because he hated pedophiles as a result of the incident and found solace in anti-gay sentiments expressed by those in the skinhead movement.

In his RCMP interview, Mr. Denton-James broke down and cried when he spoke of the incident:

"I was only 14. I never told anyone and I was angry at myself for letting it happen and I thought I could survive it. I started going to the pubs and talked [inaudible] ... did a bit of queer bashing which I was never involved in ... I just went along with it because I thought, you know, I didn't want to be outcasted. I didn't think I could really be believed because it's not me..."

Yesterday, in an interview from London, Mr. Denton-James and his wife said they want desperately to return to Canada, where her parents can see their grandson grow up.

"It has really devastated our lives. We can't plan anything. We can't do anything," Ms. Denton-James said, sobbing. "We just want to be in Canada. My family is there. I'm close to my family, We just want to be together."

"I've never done anything wrong," said Mr. Denton-James. "If I had, I wouldn't have pushed it this far."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.


Educational DVDs and Videos