Rachel Nabors

I’m not going to apologise. I’ve been fighting this brutal nonsense since I was an MP’s assistant in the late 1980s. At the time the system was that a Member of Parliament could intervene on any deportation and by contacting the Home Office get it stopped until any questionable aspects were resolved. One evening I was the last to leave the office when a call came through from Heathrow. Normally I left the immigration stops to the more experienced caseworkers, however there was nobody but me available.

So I listened to a tearful South African chap explaining that he had flown to the UK to be at the wedding of his sole surviving relative, his sister, the following day. All his papers were in order, but the immigration people had made one attempt to contact his sister and on not having the phone answered (on the afternoon before her wedding) had told him he was to be deported to South Africa. I got out the instructions on handling such cases and having taken the chap’s number and all the relevant details, and instructed him to tell the immigration people that Stuart Holland MP’s office were in the process of getting the Home Office to put a stop on his deportation. I then called the Home Office and got them to agree to do their part of the business.

Next I rang Heathrow to talk to the South African chap. I was told it was too late he was already on a plane to Luxemburg. I called the Home Office again and asked them to forward a further stop to Luxemburg. Again they agreed to do do. By now the senior caseworker had got home so I was able to get her to take over.

I was distressed to learn from her that whilst the authorities in Luxemburg had received instructions from the UK Home Office to stop the deportation, they had ignored it and placed him on a flight back to South Africa anyway. Apparently the Home Office had also agreed to apologise “for the inconvenience” and if he wanted to come to the UK on the next available flight they would “ensure” that he would be able to enter the country. Since he had by this time already missed the wedding, and for the next couple of weeks his sister would be abroad on honeymoon, he naturally turned down this “kind offer”. I cried.

It has not improved since then. It is now far worse.

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