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Home Office and Met Police ‘unlawfully questioning foreign nationals’

SAM TOBIN reports from the Court of Appeal

THE HOME Office and the Met Police are unlawfully questioning foreign nationals in a bid to deport them even when they have not committed any crimes, the Court of Appeal heard today.

The Aire Centre is bringing a case against Operation Nexus, a large-scale initiative launched in London in 2012 to deport “high-harm” foreign nationals, even if they haven’t committed any crime in Britain and minor convictions abroad are long spent.

The charity says more than 3,000 people have been removed from Britain since the operation began and many of those targeted by police and the Home Office are vulnerable.

One woman, Christina, who came to Britain from Portugal after serving a jail sentence for being trafficked into being a drug mule was reported to police when she was seen on London Bridge appearing suicidal.

When the police arrived, she was questioned about why she was in the country, then locked up at the notorious Yarl’s Wood detention centre when the Home Office discovered her previous conviction.

She ultimately won her appeal against her removal when she was recognised as a victim of trafficking, but not before she was threatened with eviction and forced to rely on foodbanks.

Aire Centre director Matthew Evans has described Nexus as “a central plank of the government’s hostile environment.”

The High Court ruled the policy was lawful last July, but the centre is trying to appeal against that decision.

Aire’s silk Dan Squires said that Nexus “applies to all foreign nationals” but that the focus of this case was “on the rights of EU citizens.”

He said it involved, among other things, “checking [and] establishing the immigration status of all foreign nationals who are arrested” so that the Home Office could determine if they could be removed.

Mr Squires said Nexus was unlawful in that it involved “systematically” checking whether EU citizens had the right to reside in Britain, regardless of whether there is “reasonable doubt” to suspect they do not.

He said it was also unlawful as it involved police questioning detainees “for a non-policing purpose,” which has “nothing to do with the investigation of a criminal offence.”

The Home Office contends that Nexus “is not an immigration policy” and that its operation is lawful.

The hearing continues.

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