Last week the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said that the UK’s asylum system is “fundamentally broken” as she promises to introduce a new one that is “firm and fair”.
In a speech at the Conservative Party conference, Priti Patel committed to delivering “the biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades”.
Ms Patel said that under Tory leadership, the UK “has and always will provide sanctuary when the lights are being switched off on people’s liberties”.
She added: “A fair asylum system should provide safe haven to those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny.”
But is the UK really a ‘ sanctuary when the lights are being switched off on people’s liberties?’ Well this argument on social media last night lead you to question that assertion.
The Secret Barrister is a well respected social media law expert, with over 400,000 followers on Twitter. Behind a cloak of anonymity they are able to hold the Government and others to account, and regularly do.
Yesterday was another such example, but the Home Office bit back, again, then climbed down. It was an embarrassing way to put the Home Office in their place but it was necessary.
It began with a Tweet from the Home Office which read: “Yesterday we returned 14 dangerous Foreign National Offenders, who broke our rules & abused our values, to Lithuania. Our efforts to return those who arrived via illegally-facilitated routes were frustrated by legal claims. Our asylum system is broken but we’re making it fairer.”
In response he Secret Barrister’s tweeted: “More #FakeLaw from @pritipatel’s fundamentally dishonest Home Office. “Convicted foreign criminals” have absolutely *NOTHING* to do with the asylum system. The @ukhomeoffice is spreading false information and should immediately issue a correction and an apology.”
The Home Office replied: “Not being able to remove people who arrived via illegally-facilitated routes from safe EU countries because of late-stage legal claims (as is the case with this flight) is an asylum issue – as this tweet makes clear.”
The Secret Barrister replied: “Oh hello, Home-Office-Civil-Servant-In-Breach-Of-The-Civil-Service-Code. We’ve had this dance before, haven’t we? You lie, I correct you, you lie again. Let’s keep this simple: Explain to me the legal link between deporting foreign national offenders and asylum law. Go.”
Then Professor of EU Law, Human Rights Law & World Trade Law, Uni of Essex Steve Peers entered the spat Tweeting: “Seriously? You’re trying to correct @BarristerSecret? Do explain how the persons concerned were ‘Foreign National Offenders’, as you claim in your tweet.”
4. The Home Office came back with “We were able to remove Foreign National Offenders on that flight. The asylum seekers who were due for removal on the same flight had to be taken off at a late stage.”
Astonished at the Home office’s reply the Secret Barrister replied: “So that’s your link? Contemporaneity? Seriously? You justify that tweet on the basis that, at the same time as deporting some foreign national offenders, you were challenged against unlawfully removing some (completely separate) asylum seekers? Is that genuinely your defence?”
After the dust began to settle the Secret Barrister summed up the online argument saying: “A Home Office civil servant admits that they posted a misleading tweet falsely conflating foreign national offenders with asylum seekers. And they’re not remotely sorry. @pritipatel’s department is rotten to the core.”
The Secret Barrister also reminded readers of another time, back in May of this year when ‘@pritipatel abused the impartiality of the @ukhomeoffice Civil Servants by instructing them to spread lies on Twitter.’