Someone at the UK Border Agency has blown the whistle on what appears to be a culture of cruelty and casual racism.
The home affairs select committee chairman, Keith Vaz, has called for an investigation following allegations that officials at one of the government’s major centres for processing asylum seekers’ claims express fiercely anti-immigration views and take pride in refusing applications.
Louise Perrett, who worked as a case owner at the Border Agency office in Cardiff for three and a half months last summer, claims staff kept a stuffed gorilla, a ‘grant monkey’, which was placed as a badge of shame on the desk of any officer who approved an asylum application.
Perrett, 29, also alleges that one official boasted to her that he tested the claims of boys from African countries who said they had been forcibly conscripted as child soldiers by making them lie down on the floor and demonstrate how they shot at people in the bush. One method used to determine the authenticity of an asylum seeker claiming to be from North Korea was to ask whether the person ate chop suey.
She claims the tone was set on the first day when one manager said of the asylum-seeker clients: ‘If it was up to me I’d take them all outside and shoot them.’ Another told her this was to be expected, adding: ‘No one in this office is very PC. In fact everyone is the exact opposite.’
One of her cases involved a Congolese woman who had the right to remain in the UK. Perrett says a superior nevertheless decided the woman and her children should be removed, and asked officials whether there were any grounds to remove them. Frustrated, she approached a member of the legal department. His reply, according to Perrett, was: ‘Umbongo, umbongo, they kill them in the Congo.’
Perrett also says that she was given the power to detain and to make legally binding decisions after just five weeks’ training.
What is there to say – except that there should be a full investigation, and that Perrett should be commended for speaking out.
If her report is true, heads should roll.
(Via Emma Ginn at Medical Justice)