Sajid Javid apologises after Home Office forced immigrants to provide DNA samples

Written by Nicholas Mairs on 26 October 2018 in News

The Home Secretary said it was “unacceptable” that a scheme which is supposed to be “entirely voluntary” was forced on some people

Sajid Javid - Image credit: PA Images

Home secretary Sajid Javid has apologised to dozens of immigrants who were wrongly forced by the Home Office to take DNA tests to prove they were entitled to settle in UK.

Javid it was “unacceptable” that a scheme which is supposed to be “entirely voluntary” was forced on some people as a requirement for a visa or to grant leave to remain.

Migrants seeking to live and work in Britain with a family relationship in the country can choose to provide DNA to prove a relationship to support an application.

But Javid revealed that more than 130 people were forced to provide samples, with more than 50 of those being the children of Gurkhas who served in the UK military.

The Home Secretary said it appeared that seven applications in total had been refused for failing to provide evidence.

A number of Afghans who worked with the British Army were also forced to take the test, although none are thought to have been refused the right to settle on that basis.

Javid told MPs he was taking action to fix the department's latest blunder, which comes just months after the Windrush scandal that saw many people of a Caribbean background wrongly forced out of the UK due to a lack of documents.

“Across our immigration system no one should have faced a demand to supply DNA evidence and no one should have been penalised for not providing it," the Home Secretary said.

"In particular I would like to extend my apology to those Gurkhas and Afghans who have been affected.

"The two schemes I’ve described were put in place to help the families of those who have served to keep our country safe.

"And I’m sorry that demands were made of them which should never have been. I would like to reassure the House that I am taking action to correct the situation."

Asked by Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott if the requests for DNA were "illegal", Javid replied: "My understanding is the Home Office has never had the express power to require anyone to give DNA".

Abbott called on the UK Government to establish how long the practice had been taking place and said the public's response to the Windrush scandal proved their concerns about Britain's immigration system.

She added: “Members across the House will no doubt be shocked to learn that amongst the very first victims of his abuse were Gurkhas and Afghans, men and women who put their lives at risk to keep us safe."

Following the revelation, Javid said he would move to ensure it was not repeated and that anyone who was affected would be able to get help from a taskforce and access to compensation if appropriate.

He also vowed to examine whether more people had been affected by the practice and said officials would lead a fresh review of the department’s “structures and processes” to ensure the system is “fair and humane”.

"I know that the immigration system is operated by many highly committed people, but we must make sure that the structures and processes that they use are fit for the modern world and fit for a new immigration system we will be bringing in after we leave the EU," he added. 

"So I will review the structures and the processes more broadly the structures and processes that we have to ensure that they deliver a system which is fair and humane.

“I will now consider what form this review will take, but my starting point or this is that it would be helpful to have independent oversight of such a review."

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