Home Office woes continue
with contradictions over
May 11, 2018
In the wake of the Windrush scandal and the resignation last month of the Home Secretary, the eyes of the public are on the Home Office and its ability to manage, among other things, detention and deportation.
But is the department, to use the words of a former Home Secretary from 12 years ago, ‘fit for purpose’?
When Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes gave evidence to a cross-party Home Affairs committee earlier this week, she said:
‘I don’t think I’ve had any cases of wrongful deportation brought to my attention.’
But within the next few minutes, she was contradicted, first by Labour MP Stephen Doughty, and then by Hugh Ind, the director general of her own department’s immigration enforcement section.
Doughty raised the case of one of his constituents, who had been wrongly sent to Somalia. Then Ind confirmed that ‘a handful’ of people had been removed during the past six years, as a consequence of the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy to deter illegal movement to the UK.
Ind also told the committee that as a result of these decisions later being ruled unlawful, £3.3m has been paid out in compensation.
This, Ind admitted, is a ‘deep problem’.
Nokes was also questioned about claims that as many as 1,000 highly skilled immigrant workers are facing deportation because they have made minor mistakes on their tax forms. She called for a ‘culture change’ in the Home Office, moving away from a ‘computer says no’ mentality.
Labour MP John Woodcock said: ‘You must be horrified that people are being detained and facing removal for often minor discrepancies in their tax submissions, for which HMRC is not seeking enforcement action.’
Nokes replied: ‘I have to accept that this is a department that has an enormous workload, and my number one priority at the moment has been both on Windrush cases and people impacted by that, and also going forward why other cohorts of people might be similarly affected.’
The minister also told the committee that 8,000 case files of immigrants removed from Britain since 2002 were being scrutinised, but as yet no errors had been found.
This examination is separate from the internal inquiry into Windrush that was announced by the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, last week.