A government minister has confirmed two groups of people who had crossed the Channel in small boats were left stranded in London after a “misunderstanding” with Home Office officials.
Sky News spoke to an asylum seeker on Thursday who said he was among one group of 45 migrants removed from Manston migration centre in Kent and taken to Victoria coach station, but not told where to go next by officials.
But Chris Philp has now confirmed two groups had been left in the capital, saying they had told immigration officials “they had addresses to go to, so friends and family, and that turned out subsequently not to be the case”.
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The policing minister told Sky News there had been a “misunderstanding”, adding: “How that misunderstanding arose? Maybe it was lost in translation, I don’t know. But clearly, they have now all been looked after.”
Mr Philp also insisted Manston was now legally compliant after court action was launched against the Home Office over conditions at the site.
Reports surfaced earlier this week of severe overcrowding, with estimates Manston was housing 4,000 people compared to the 1,600 it is designed for.
Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, told Sky News on Wednesday that a judicial review was being brought forward as a result.
But Mr Philp said significant improvements have been made recently at the centre, adding: “I don’t accept the premise that it’s not legally compliant today. A lot of changes have been made even in the last few days.”
However, he warned there was a “huge challenge” and “radical action” was needed, saying: “About 40,000 people have illegally entered the UK so far this year on small boats and that is a huge operational challenge, it’s very, very hard to deal with that.
“These journeys are totally unnecessary because France obviously is a safe country with a well-functioning asylum system.
“These journeys don’t need to be made. No one is fleeing war in France. These journeys should not be getting made in the first place.”
After telling Sky News the UK had been “very generous to people who are in genuine need”, Mr Philp later told Times Radio it was “a bit of a cheek” for people entering the country illegally to complain about conditions.
Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said the entire approach from government towards the issue “lacks any sense of a basic competence or compassion”.
He told Sky News they needed to drop the “expensive gimmicks” like sending people to Rwanda and focus on the root causes, as well as tackling the backlog of asylum cases.
Meanwhile, a Tory MP has attacked the Home Office for its failure to work with councils when finding accommodation for those coming over on small boats.
Council chiefs in Kent have already warned the county is at “breaking point” as a result of the migrant situation, and have written to the home secretary, urging her to stop using the county as an “easy fix”.
But North Devon MP Selaine Saxby told Sky News her own council had been “completely cut out of the decision making process” over housing people at a hotel in Ilfracombe.
She added: “I think where the whole process seems to be going wrong is that councils aren’t being involved in these decisions and the local councils are well placed to know where we can accommodate people safely and securely, and work with their local communities.
“That doesn’t seem to be happening at all.”