Amber Rudd resigns hours after Guardian publishes deportation targets letter

From The Guardian: Amber Rudd has resigned as home secretary, after repeatedly struggling to account for her role in the unjust treatment of Windrush Generation migrants.

The home secretary was forced to step down after a series of revelations in the Guardian over Windrush culminated in a leak on Friday that appeared to show she was aware of targets for removing illegal migrants from Britain.

The pressure increased late on Sunday afternoon as the Guardian revealed that in a leaked 2017 letter to Theresa May, Amber Rudd had told the prime minister of her intention to increase deportations by 10% – seemingly at odds with her recent denials that she was aware of deportation targets.

Rudd was facing a bruising appearance in the House of Commons on Monday. Downing Street sources said that in preparing for her statement, new information had become available which convinced Rudd she had inadvertently misled parliament – and she had therefore phoned the prime minister on Sunday to tender her resignation.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Amber Rudd was sent targets for migrant removal, leak reveals

From the Guardian: Amber Rudd’s insistence that she knew nothing of Home Office targets for immigration removals risks unravelling following the leak of a secret internal document prepared for her and other senior ministers.

The six-page memo, passed to the Guardian, says the department has set “a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18” and boasts that “we have exceeded our target of assisted returns”.

The document was prepared by Hugh Ind, the director general of the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement agency, in June last year and copied to Rudd and Brandon Lewis, the then immigration minister, as well as several senior civil servants and special advisers.

The leak will raise questions about Rudd’s public position on what she knew about the setting of targets for the enforced removal of migrants.

The issue has become particularly toxic because of coverage of the Windrush generation – many of whom have been made destitute, homeless and denied benefits and healthcare because of the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy towards those it deems to be lacking appropriate documentation to be in the UK.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Amber Rudd urged to resign over immigrant removal targets

From The Guardian: Amber Rudd faced fresh calls to resign after admitting the Home Office set strict local targets for removing migrants who were in the UK illegally, having previously told MPs her department did not set targets.

The home secretary was hauled back in front of MPs in the House of Commons to answer an urgent question from Labour’s Diane Abbott, after Home Office documents revealed targets were set for voluntary removals.

MPs have said the targets could have led enforcement officers to target “low-hanging fruit” – people living in the UK legally but without the correct documents, like many of the Windrush generation.

Rudd said the Home Office had been “using local targets for internal performance management” but said she would review them.

“I have never agreed there should be specific removal targets and I would never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people,” she said.

“These were not published targets against which performance was assessed. But they were used inappropriately. I am clear they will have to change.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

“It’s a bit late for Amber Rudd to be ‘heartbroken’ over anything” – Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee writes in the Guardian: “Amber Rudd, in her car-crash replies to Yvette Cooper’s forensic questioning on Wednesday, was forced to admit that she had a target for removals: this year it is 12,000 people.

“[…] From inside the Home Office comes evidence that hard targets were pinned on immigration officers’ walls. Of course they went after ‘low-hanging fruit’, those easy to find because they had lived here for ever, paying income tax and council tax; the older, the easier. Gotcha!”

[Read full column on Guardian website…]

Home secretary ignores court order and sends asylum seeker to Kabul

From The Guardian: An asylum seeker is holed up in a hotel room in Kabul in fear for his life after the home secretary breached a high court order not to remove him from the UK and instead put him on a plane back to Afghanistan.

Samim Bigzad, 23, says he is a prime target for the Taliban because he worked in construction for the Afghan government and American companies before he sought sanctuary in the UK.

Now he is back in Kabul he is even more fearful after a group of armed men in plain clothes arrived at the hotel on Wednesday and demanded to know his whereabouts.

Two high court judges have made separate orders calling for Bigzad to be brought back to the UK as a matter of urgency. The second states that the home secretary, Amber Rudd, is in contempt of court for breaching the first order not to remove Bigzad.

“I am very scared,” Bigzad said in a call from his hotel room in Kabul. “The people who work at the hotel are bringing food to me and have told me I must not leave this room at all. I think the hotel staff have a gun for protection if the men come back and try to force their way in.”

The first high court order preventing the asylum seeker’s removal was issued on Tuesday evening by Mr Justice Morris. By that time Bigzad had already been removed from the UK by the Home Office and had been put on to a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul. From there he was due to board a connecting flight to Kabul.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Judge condemns Amber Rudd for ignoring orders to release torture victim

From The Guardian: A high court judge has said she is “deeply concerned” about the behaviour of Amber Rudd for failing to release a survivor of torture from detention despite repeated court orders requiring her to do so.

“The court is deeply concerned,” said Mrs Justice Nicola Davies DBE. “Four weeks have elapsed since an order was made.”

She added that the home secretary had failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for the delays in releasing the man from detention.

It is unusual for a high court judge to condemn a senior government minister in such strong terms. In a mark of her disquiet about the secretary of state’s conduct she not only awarded costs against her but also made an indemnity order – something reserved for conduct or circumstances that take a case “out of the norm” and a mark of disapproval by a judge.

The asylum seeker from Chad, who cannot be named for legal reasons, first applied for bail so that he could be released from immigration detention in April 2017. He experienced persecution both in his home country and on his journey to reach Europe when he was imprisoned in Libya.

Tory Government makes ‘outrageous’ U-turn over fracking in precious wildlife sites

From The Guardian: The government has made a U-turn on its promise to exclude fracking from Britain’s most important nature sites, arguing that the shale gas industry would be held back if it was excluded from them.

Campaigners accused ministers of putting wildlife at risk and reneging on their pledge earlier this year to ban fracking in sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), which cover about 8% of England and similar proportions of Wales and Scotland.

Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, told MPs in January: “We have agreed an outright ban on fracking in national parks [and] sites of special scientific interest”.

But the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc), which laid draft regulations in parliament on Thursday covering which areas fracking would be excluded from, has confirmed that exploration for shale gas will no longer be prevented in SSSIs.

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