Posted on April 12, 2024

Sex Offender Allowed to Stay in UK – As More Than Half of Appeals Against Asylum Decisions Successful

Becky Johnson and Nick Stylianou, Sky News, April 10, 2024

Home Office asylum decisions are being overturned by more than half of applicants, as Sky News reveals a convicted sex offender was awarded refugee status after a judge ruled he would be at risk of “mob violence” in Afghanistan.

The man, who was convicted of “outraging public decency and exposure” in 2017, was placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register but was given permission to remain in the country.

The evidence of several doctors at his asylum appeal hearings stated that he “continues to act inappropriately towards females”.

In June 2020, an immigration tribunal judge agreed with lawyers that his “risky behaviours” would expose him to “ill-treatment” in Afghanistan and awarded him refugee status.

Immigration tribunal courts, where judges can overturn the Home Office, have ruled in favour of asylum seekers 51% of the time since 2021.

And the majority of those who are unsuccessful do not return home, staying in Britain illegally.

On average, more than £34m of legal aid per year has been spent on asylum cases since 2017, according to figures from the Ministry of Justice.

The Sky News investigation comes on the same day a watchdog revealed aid spending on asylum seekers in the UK rose to £4.3bn in 2023.

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact said the figure was driven up by the Home Office paying out £2.5bn on hotel accommodation for the year, saying it had “continuing value for money concerns” over the department’s spending.

Home Office minister Laura Farris told Sky News the government wanted to “end this merry-go-round” of illegal arrivals to the UK, and said it was “absolutely right that the public expects that foreign national offenders will be deported when their sentence is concluded”.

Meanwhile, Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, blasted the “chaos in the asylum system” and “complete lack of enforcement” when someone has committed a serious offence.

She told Sky News it was right the UK gives “sanctuary to those who have fled persecution and conflict”, but added that “standards need to be maintained” so those without the right to stay are removed.

‘They just send letters’

Sakhile, 47, claimed asylum in Britain 18 years ago after arriving from Zimbabwe, where she says her political views put her at risk of persecution. Over the years, she has filed four further claims which have all been unsuccessful.

At no point has she ever been threatened with removal. “They just send letters and ask you if you want to go voluntarily,” she says.

Analysis of Home Office data by the Migration Observatory shows almost two-thirds, or 55,273 people, who were refused asylum were not recorded as having left the UK in the decade from 2011.

That figure – which represents 61% of all failed asylum seekers – could be even higher as it does not include partners or children.

Abdul Ezedi, an Afghan man who carried out a chemical attack on a woman and two children in Clapham, was twice rejected by the Home Office but remained in the country.

Despite being on the Sex Offenders’ Register, he was granted asylum on appeal after claiming he had converted to Christianity and would be at risk of persecution in Afghanistan.

Religious conversion is just one reason an appeal can succeed.

Sky News has examined court papers that identify “Westernisation” as an argument made by people whose length of stay in the UK while awaiting a decision means they would face persecution in their home countries.

One Iraqi Kurdish family said their daughter was used to living “as a Western woman”.

The judge said: “If this family were transplanted from Liverpool to Baghdad, and carried on living in the way they live here, they would quickly encounter problems.”

‘The system is broken’

In an interview with Sky News earlier this month, science minister Andrew Griffith MP said: “We can’t run an asylum system based on credulous clerics and lefty lawyers.”

But allegations of activism within the courts are dismissed by those who regularly appear against the government.

“The asylum system is broken,” says Ahmed Aydeed, director of public law at Duncan Lewis, who regularly represents asylum seekers. “Lawyers only work within the system created… I think the public would be greatly angered by the way this whole system works.”

A Home Office spokesperson told Sky News: “We stand firm on our longstanding policy that those without a right to stay in the UK will be removed.

“Our Illegal Migration Act makes this possible, as people who enter the UK illegally will have their asylum claims and human rights claims declared inadmissible, and they will not be able to make a life here.

“Each asylum application is individually assessed, including decisions on removal of individuals.

“Where people have previously been refused asylum in the UK, a fresh asylum claim can be made through legal representation.”