Smith admits deportation mistake

Home secretary says number of failed asylum seekers whose deportation is postponed is twice as many as previously believed.
Home secretary says number of failed asylum seekers whose deportation is postponed is twice as many as previously believed.

The home secretary has said the number of failed asylum seekers whose deportation flights are postponed is almost twice as many as previously believed.

Jacqui Smith has apologised after stating there had been 1,173 failed asylum seekers whose deportation was delayed due to disruptive behaviour when the actual figure is nearly double that amount.

In a letter to the shadow home secretary David Davis, Ms Smith wrote: "It has now come to light that some of this information was incorrect and the figure is in fact 2,079. Please accept my sincere apologies for the error."

Many asylum seekers become aggressive or regress into tantrums when they are to be deported in a bid to disrupt flight crews and encourage their removal from flights.


A spokesperson for the Home Office said the error was due to an administrative oversight.

Mr Davis commented: "The blunders and chaos in the immigration and asylum system looks set to continue in 2008.

"Not only is the Home Office failing to deport people who have no right to be here, it continues to be unable to get a grip on its facts and figures."

It was reported last weekend that the government has been paying failed asylum seekers up to £4,000 each in order to persuade them to return to their own country.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that more than 23,000 immigrants have taken advantage of the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme at a cost of £36 million to the taxpayer, according to the latest figures.

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