Home Secretary accused of ‘ignoring’ legal advice about migrant centres

SUELLA Braverman has been accused of ignoring legal warnings that the Home Office was breaking the law by keeping asylum seekers in overcrowded and disease-ridden processing centres for too long. 

The Sunday Times reports that the Home Secretary was told at least three weeks ago that migrants were being kept in overcrowded centres in Manston in Kent for unlawful lengths of time. 

Under current UK law, migrants are not supposed to be kept in processing centres for more than 24 hours. 

It was reported that around 2600 migrants have been kept for more than four weeks in the centres which are only designed to house 1600. 

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Braverman was reportedly told that she needed to resolve the breach quickly by rehousing the asylum seekers elsewhere. 

The alleged legal breach piles even more pressure on Braverman, who was only brought back into the Cabinet this week.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has already faced calls to sack the Home Secretary with this breach reportedly set to cost the taxpayer “millions” if the migrants are granted asylum and choose to take legal action. 

A government source told the newspaper: “The government is likely to be judicially reviewed and it’s likely that all of them would be granted asylum, so it’s going to achieve the exact opposite of what she wants. 

“These people could launch a class action against us and cost the taxpayer millions.”

Civil servants also allegedly warned Braverman that the Home Office would likely lose a legal challenge, and there could be a public inquiry if the issue came to light. 

Many of the migrants have come to the UK over the English Channel in recent weeks in small boats. 

The backlog of processing asylum claims has reached 100,000.

David Neal, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, told the Home Affairs Select Committee, a group of MPs that scrutinises the activities of the Home Office, that he was shocked by the “wretched conditions” migrants are living in in Manston. 

Sources told The Times that Braverman had allegedly deliberately chosen not to sign off enough alternative accommodation to cut down on the £6.8 million bill the government was facing to house asylum seekers. 

A government source said: “When they get there, people are supposed to be processed and then released. 

“They have their biometrics taken and should be sent to accommodation paid for by the Home Office, which means a hotel, or they are granted immigration bail.

“They can only hold someone if there is a reasonable prospect of their removal from the country in a sensible timeframe. 

“She was refusing to sign off on bail or pay for hotels which means she was illegally detaining people. There is no legal grounds for them to be detained.

“Officials have been put in an impossible position because they can’t release people without Suella releasing the money. This has been going on for more than three weeks.”

A fourth source said they thought Braverman could have broken the ministerial code again in the process, only a week after she stepped down for a data breach. 

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A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The Home Secretary has taken urgent decisions to alleviate issues at Manston and source alternative accommodation. 

“It is right that we look at all available options so decisions can be made based on the latest operational and legal advice.”

Sunak has defended his decision to give Braverman her job back, saying that she “made an error of judgement, but she recognised that, she raised the matter and she accepted her mistake”. 


https://www.thenational.scot/news/23088188.home-secretary-accused-ignoring-legal-advice-migrant-centres/