Wednesday briefing: How a sacked official blew the whistle on new lows in the asylum system

28 February 2024: Guardian: Wednesday briefing: How a sacked official blew the whistle on new lows in the asylum system

In today’s newsletter: Why David Neal lost his job, and what he had to say about the faltering immigration system

Good morning. When then-home secretary Priti Patel appointed David Neal as the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration in 2021, the Commons home affairs committee refused to endorse the decision. They were worried that the recruitment process had been inadequate and said they had seen no evidence that he was “confident to challenge performance publicly”. Well, they’ve seen it now.

Last week, David Neal was sacked from his job by James Cleverly, now the home secretary, just a month before he was due to stand down. Neal’s crime was to disclose unauthorised information to the media – a tactic that he appears to have resorted to after 15 reports he wrote uncovering problems with the immigration system went unpublished, instead gathering dust on a Home Office shelf. Now Neal has told the same parliamentary committee of “shocking leadership” at the Home Office and said he was “sacked for doing my job” – and his testimony paints a grim picture of the state of the accommodation centres where the government houses asylum seekers.

For today’s newsletter, I spoke to Diane Taylor, who covers immigration and asylum for the Guardian, about what her own reporting has uncovered about the facilities that drove Neal to go rogue – and what his departure tells us about the Home Office’s appetite for scrutiny. Here are the headlines.

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Report Launch: “No Such Thing as Justice Here”

25 February 2024: University of Oxford: Report: “No Such Thing as Justice Here” and launch on 7 March 2024

This report, published by the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford and Border Criminologies, shows how people have been imprisoned for their arrival on a ‘small boat’ since the Nationality and Borders Act (2022) came into force. It details the process from sea to prison, and explains how this policy is experienced by those affected. Analysis is based on observations of over 100 hearings where people seeking asylum were prosecuted for their own illegal arrival, or for facilitating the arrival of others through steering the dinghy they travelled on. The report is informed by the detailed casework experience of Humans for Rights Network, Captain Support UK and Refugee Legal Support. It also draws on data collected through Freedom of Information requests, and research interviews with lawyers, interpreters, and people who have been criminalised for crossing the Channel on a ‘small boat’. 

Read the full report here, and the summary here

You can join for the launch of the report at Garden Court Chambers on the 7th March, 2024. To register for this hybrid event, click here.

Labour Exploitation Advisory Group report

February 2024: Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG): “So I decided to carry on…”: The continuum of exploitation in practice

This report produced by the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG) explores the ‘continuum of exploitation’ model which shows that workers’ experiences can be understood as existing along a ‘continuum’, or spectrum, ranging from decent work through to breaches of employment rights and at the severe end, conditions of forced labour and trafficking.

It looks at the limits of the ‘modern slavery’ approach to labour exploitation and the need for the UK to move toward a more preventative approach informed by workers’ real lived experiences.

The report is based on engagement with migrant workers with thanks to the Kanlungan Filipino Consortium, Indoamerican Refugee and Migrant Organization, Latin American Women’s Rights Service and Work Rights Centre and the workers who shared their experiences to inform this report.

Download the report from the website here:

It’s scandalous

Updated 20 February 2024: The Government is really angry with Dave Neal for speaking out: BBC: Immigration watchdog sacked after critical news stories

Mr Neal, whose tenure was due to end on 21 March, told the Times on Tuesday that he had not made the decision to speak to the media “lightly”. He added: “But I’ve been forced into this because my reports aren’t being published.”

“I’ve spent all my working life protecting this country, I’ve identified a security failing and I’ve brought it back to the Home Office,” he is quoted as saying.

“There’s a strong public interest here and that’s why I’ve done what I’ve done. The border is there to keep us safe, it’s critical that there are clear auditable risk decisions made to protect every one of us in the country.”

Continue reading “It’s scandalous”

Status Now 4 All Newsletter – February 2024. 

Welcome to the Status Now Newsletter for February 2024. 

Status Now 4 All Campaign

This is our call:

We call upon the British and Irish States to act immediately so that all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the legal process in both the UK and Ireland are granted Status Now, as in *Indefinite Leave to Remain. In this way every human, irrespective of their nationality or citizenship can access healthcare, housing, food and the same sources of income from the State as everyone else

Our campaign continues to be as relevant as ever in this hostile environment, and we stand with those who share our concerns,  some of which are reflected in the following news items. We begin with news from StatusNow4All signatory organisations and then point the reader to just a few of the many articles that confirm the need for our existence.

Continue reading “Status Now 4 All Newsletter – February 2024. “

Migrant Voice Roundtable Event

Migrant Voice organised a Roundtable Event on Tuesday 6 February 2024, for Migration Week 2024.

This is part of Migrant Voice efforts to advance the agenda for a migration system that respects the dignity of all people. It stems from the conviction that the system should adhere to the UK’s commitment on the global stage. It is also an attempt to advance the discussion on migration beyond the hostile narrative that is presented by the current government.

Continue reading “Migrant Voice Roundtable Event”