Murderers and rapists could be barred from claiming asylum as part of Priti Patel's crackdown on immigration

Charles Hymas
·4-min read
Home Secretary Priti Patel accompanied Immigration Enforcement Officers on an early morning arrest in north London of a suspected suspected of having a significant financial role in an organised crime group linked to people smuggling activity - Heathcliff O'Malley
Home Secretary Priti Patel accompanied Immigration Enforcement Officers on an early morning arrest in north London of a suspected suspected of having a significant financial role in an organised crime group linked to people smuggling activity - Heathcliff O'Malley

Murderers and rapists to be prevented from claiming asylum, says Priti Patel, after the Jamaican deportation flight row.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the Home Secretary said it was “completely wrong” that convicted killers and rapists released from jail should be able to exploit the asylum system to remain in the UK.

She also indicated that asylum will be “streamlined” to prevent migrants making multiple claims that can be lodged and heard hours or even minutes before their removal.

It will be part of a major reform of Britain’s “completely broken” asylum system, which is due to be unveiled in the new year.

Her comments came after a murderer, two rapists and two would-be killers were among 23 criminals who escaped deportation to Jamaica early on Wednesday morning after lodging 11th hour appeals including claims for asylum. One was removed from the flight just minutes before the flight after a judge granted a stay.

Acting Chief Immigration Officer Sam Johnson making a forced entry into the property of a suspected people smuggler  - Heathcliff O'Malley
Acting Chief Immigration Officer Sam Johnson making a forced entry into the property of a suspected people smuggler - Heathcliff O'Malley

Speaking as she observed a raid in North London to arrest a migrant trafficking gang leader, she said: “This is exactly a part of the system that I am looking for reform and change. The reason they were taken off the flight was last minute legal claims put forward by legal firms making representations.

“One judgment came through in the early hours by a duty judge who declared the representations to be totally wrong. This speaks to why the system is broken. We can’t have last minute appeals coming for to stop individuals like this.

“Some are trying to claim asylum which is completely wrong if they are murderers and rapists. That is part of the system change we want to bring in. They are using it to stop being deported. 

“That’s not what the asylum system is geared up for. It is not there for rapists and murderers who have lost their appeal. That’s part of the wider reform.”

She pledged the Home Office would continue to “pursue all legal avenues” to remove the 23 who avoided deportation.

Home Secretary Priti Patel accompanied Immigration Enforcement Officers on an early morning arrest in north London of a suspected suspected of having a significant financial role in an organised crime group linked to people smuggling activity - Heathcliff O'Malley
Home Secretary Priti Patel accompanied Immigration Enforcement Officers on an early morning arrest in north London of a suspected suspected of having a significant financial role in an organised crime group linked to people smuggling activity - Heathcliff O'Malley

They included Michael Antonio White who was sentenced in 2003 to a minimum of 18 years for murder after shooting his victim six times in a drug deal that went wrong and Jermaine Stewart, sentenced to six years in 2014 for raping a woman who went to sleep on his sofa.

Home Office sources revealed that criminals claim asylum on the basis that their lives will be at risk from drug dealers if they return to countries like Jamaica.

One man in his 20s had even claimed that he could not be returned because he had been victim of modern slavery when he was eight and forced to shoeshine for no money.

Officials also disclosed that one of the criminals due to be deported to Jamaica had to be removed from the flight just minutes before it took off, while a class action injunction was only resolved an hour before it left the UK.

“Look at their conviction history, murderers, rapists, criminals who have served sentences in prisons. 

They are foreign national offenders. We are doing the right thing in terms of deporting them. That gives their victims justice,” said Ms Patel. 

On Thursday’s raid, she was for the first time wearing a protective jacket (below) specially fitted by the Metropolitan police after her protection team recommended it because of her regular visits to observe officers on such operations. 

It is badged with “Home Secretary.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel accompanied Immigration Enforcement Officers on an early morning arrest in north London of a suspected suspected of having a significant financial role in an organised crime group linked to people smuggling activity - Heathcliff O'Malley
Home Secretary Priti Patel accompanied Immigration Enforcement Officers on an early morning arrest in north London of a suspected suspected of having a significant financial role in an organised crime group linked to people smuggling activity - Heathcliff O'Malley

A source said: “A lovely lady came to the Home Office to fit her all up and suggested instead of having just the union jack she could get her own badge.”

Ms Patel criticised Labour for failing to back the deportation, citing a letter from Liam Byrne, who piloted the Borders Act through Parliament.

“The man who took the Act through Parliament - requiring the Home Secretary to deport foreign offenders - now wants these criminals on Britain’s streets,” she tweeted.

Last night, the Home Secretary hit back at “do-gooding” celebrities such as Naomi Campbell who opposed the deportation flight who she accused of likening criminals to the Windrush generation that “made an enormous contribution to our country and were wronged by successive governments”. 

“To see ill-informed Labour politicians and do-gooding celebrities attempting to conflate the victims of Windrush with these vile criminals set for deportation is not only misjudged and upsetting but deeply offensive,” she told the Daily Mail.