Meg Hillier misleads Parliament on Yarl’s Wood

March 13, 2010

Letter from Meg Hillier at the Home Office. Dated 11th. March. Received today. Picture by Frances Laing. To see the full text of the letter click on the image. Page 1 of 2.

New Labour want to be seen as tough on immigration. They think this allows them to be dishonest . Of course – it doesn’t. In an article for “The Friend” the international Quaker journal published in last week’s  print edition  – I wrote:

“With the launch of Early Day Motion 919 in support of Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers this struggle for truth and justice has reached parliament. In a backlash – Meg Hillier Junior Minister in the Home Office wrote to every M.P. claiming the media were “misreporting”…

…I believe Hillier’s letter was dishonest.”

I queried Meg’s statements for a second time via David Hanson at the Ministry of Justice (see previous posts). In her original letter to all M.Ps and parliament – Meg wrote:

“I should make it clear that detention is only used when people have refused to leave the country voluntarily despite support being offered for them to do so, an dwe have to enforce that removal. Detention is a vital tool in the removal of failed asylum seekers, ex-foreign national prisoners and others whose application to stay have been fully considered by the UK borders agency and the independent courts, BUT HAVE FAILED. The cases of those in detention continue to be examined, however individual detainees frequently prolong detention and removal with the use of judicial reviews or obstructive behaviour”.

In her statements to parliament Meg implies that all the people in Yarl’s Wood have failed in their court cases. This is misleading. Not just for our Members of Parliament – but for the general public – how many people know enough about immigration detention systems to fully understand the implications and background to this? If journalists are good for anything we are supposed to support education for true democracy…so I’m going to try to explain this to you all in plain english:

In the letter I received from the Home Office today Meg Hillier openly admits that Verna Joseph ‘won’ her case in January.

Despite the fact that the Home Office is appealing on Verna’s case – Verna is not someone who has failed in the courts as Meg Hillier has claimed. Put simply SOMEONE WHO HAS WON THEIR APPEAL AT TRIBUNAL IS NOT SOMEONE WHO HAS ‘FAILED IN THE COURTS’.
I believe that Verna is not the only detainee in this situation.

I stand by the comment piece published in “The Friend”. With her letter to all M.P’s Meg Hillier is misleading parliament itself. Verna is just one example of a detainee who has not FAILED in the courts. Meg’s statement to parliament is therefore simply untrue.

The grave humanitarian and political problem we have is this: New Labour want to be seen as tough on immigration. They think this allows them to be dishonest . Of course – it doesn’t.

Meg’s original letter to M.P’s is published on the U.K. Borders Agency website. Read it here.

To read the full text of Meg’s letter to me – enlarge the images.

Page Two of Meg Hillier’s letter. Received today.

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