A High Court judge has raised concerns after saying prison bosses did not appear to know that a prisoner was in their jail.
Mr Justice Newton today said he was “less than impressed” about what had happened at Pentonville prison in north London.
He said a man may have been falsely imprisoned, said court time and public money had been wasted and described the episode as “chaotic”.
Problems emerged on Friday July 3 when salesman Mohammed Chaudhry, of Kettering, Northamptonshire, failed to appear at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, where the disappearance of a child was being investigated.
Mr Justice Newton had remanded Chaudhry in custody for five days the previous Monday, during the latest phase of investigations into the disappearance of his nephew Mani Dad, who turned seven this week.
Chaudhry was brought to court today and released on bail pending a further hearing on July 16.
“I am less than impressed with what went on at Pentonville prison,” said Mr Justice Newton. “Pentonville prison did not appear to know he was in there.”
He added: “It seemed to be chaotic and caused a great deal of court delay and court time and public expenditure to be wasted whilst the prison staff tried to identify where he was.”
The judge said Chaudhry may “effectively” have been “kept falsely in prison”.
“It is most unsatisfactory,” he said, “and it is not an isolated incident.”
He added: “It is necessary for those that are responsible for people in custody to understand that court orders must be complied with. Prisoners must be produced.”
Mr Justice Newton had asked the governor or deputy governor of Pentonville prison to appear before him today and offer an explanation, but he said no-one had been able to attend the hearing for “emergency operational reasons”.
The judge has been told that Mani was living with his Polish mother Leyla Dad, 33, in Kielce, Poland, when he vanished six months ago.
He is thought to be in the UK with his British father, Ms Dad’s estranged husband, Zayn Dean, 47, who is also known as Dholtana Dad, lawyers say.
Ms Dad has launched family court proceedings in a bid to find her son.
Lawyers for Ms Dad have suggested that Chaudhry, who is also known as Aslam Yousuf and Mohammed Nawaz and has links to Bedford, knows where his brother and Mani are.
Barrister Emily Rayner today told Mr Justice Newton that Chaudhry’s family had “managed to conceal” Mani.
Mr Justice Newton has spoken of his ”grave anxiety” for Mani’s welfare.
He has been told that Mr Dean has links to Kettering, Bedford, Birmingham and Manchester.
Ms Dad, who uses her middle name, Paulina, has made a direct appeal to Mr Dean and written an open letter to Mani, saying: ”I promise we will be together again soon my baby.”
Lawyers say she has begun legal proceedings under the terms of the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Judges have given permission for detail of the case to be released to the media.
Lawyers have told Mr Justice Newton that Chaudhry had been arrested at an address in Bedford by High Court security staff after attempts to serve paperwork requiring him to come to court failed.