After the death of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler pictured washed up on a Turkish beach, many promises and commitments were made by global leaders to step up their response to the migrant crisis. But today, five years on, we are facing an identical tragedy, and much closer to the UK’s doorstep, raising the question: did Kurdi’s death change anything?’A five-year-old and an eight-year-old died after falling into the Channel when the boat in which they were travelling, in an attempt to reach the UK, capsized. It is the worst tragedy of its kind in the Channel.Taking such a risk with one’s life, or children’s lives, will be beyond most people’s understanding. The conditions on Tuesday were particularly poor for a crossing, with rain and strong winds – most attempts are taken on calm, clear days.The reasons people risk such a dangerous journey are numerous. They are frequently fleeing torture or death in their home countries. The conditions in northern France are poor and worsening, despite the help many charities offer, with frequent raids on migrant camps, and poor access to healthcare, basic supplies, and legal assistance. Migrants and refugees are often running towards the comfort of family, hoping to be reunited with loved ones in the UK.Humanitarian groups, and some of Britain’s biggest cultural stars, are united in their belief that individuals will continue to want to travel to the UK for a wide variety of reasons. They say it is crucial that the UK government offers safe and legal routes for people to travel to the UK to claim asylum, as migrants cannot claim unless they are on British soil.There are few safe and legal routes. Refugee groups say family reunion rules protected by EU law, known as the Dublin III regulations, are the most effective. But when the transition period ends on 31 December, the UK will no longer offer this route and the EU has dismissed alternatives offered by the UK as “not very operational”.Last week, the government rejected a Lords’ amendment to its immigration bill that would ensure the provisions of the Dublin regulations would continue. Other “safe and legal routes” have been suggested by humanitarian groups and migration experts, none of which is being utilised by the UK government.In 2016, the government accepted an amendment to the immigration bill proposed by the Labour peer and former child refugee Alf Dubs requiring the Home Office to accept an unspecified number of unaccompanied child refugees from Europe for resettlement in the UK. The government capped the scheme at 480 children, although there was no legal requirement to do this and, as the cap has been met, the scheme has, in effect, ended.In October last year, Greece’s immigration minister, Michalis Chrisochoidis, asked fellow EU states to help. He wanted countries to take in some of the 4,000-plus unaccompanied children on Greek islands. The European commission ultimately responded and funded a scheme to transfer children off the Greek islands. So far more than 10 countries, including Norway and Switzerland, which are not in the EU, have taken part.But the UK has refused to help. Instead, ministers have taken a hardline approach, vowing to make the crossing “unviable”. The UK government has appointed “a clandestine channel threat commander” to tackle people smuggling and is investigating methods of physically blocking asylum seekers from attempting to cross the Channel.Ministers and officials have looked at using nets to disable boat engines, locking up migrants on oil rigs, sending them more than 5,000 miles away to Ascension Island in the south Atlantic, and using water cannon to create waves to push back vessels.This is set against a backdrop of increasingly hostile rhetoric from the government directed at asylum seekers, and those who wish to help them. The home secretary, Priti Patel, has called the asylum system “fundamentally broken” and promised new laws to deny asylum to those using illegal routes to enter the UK.All of which has caused dismay among humanitarian organisations, which do not doubt that migrants fleeing from dire circumstances will continue to take risks to reach the UK.
Police are questioning seven Nigerian nationals following Sunday’s maritime security incident off the Isle of Wight, the Hampshire Constabulary has confirmed. Officers have been granted more time by Southampton Magistrates Court to question the men, police said on Tuesday in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times. Nave Andromeda is seen in Portishead, United Kingdom, in a file photo. (Huw Gibby/via Reuters) The seven suspects were arrested on Sunday evening after British military personnel seized control of the crude oil tanker “Nave Andromeda” near the Isle of Wight. The seven men, who are all Nigerian nationals, were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force under the Aviation and Maritime and Security Act 1990, and will remain in custody until the evening of Oct. 28. Under UK law, officers have 24 hours to question someone in custody. After the first 24 hours, the police can apply for 12 more hours with authorisation from a senior officer. After that, all applications must be applied via the courts and authorised by a judge. A maximum of 96 hours can be granted. Liberia-flagged oil tanker Nave Andromeda is seen at Southampton Docks on Oct. 26, 2020. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters) The incident began on Sunday morning, when the master of the Liberia-flagged tanker informed the UK authorities that stowaways had been found on board and that he was concerned for the safety of the crew due to the increasingly hostile behaviour of the stowaways. The seven stowaways had illegally boarded the tanker in Lagos, Nigeria, the tanker’s Greek operator, Navios Tanker Management, told The Epoch Times in an email. Police received the call just after 10 a.m. and were told the stowaways had made verbal threats towards the crew, according to a police spokesman. Police worked closely with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Border Force to put the situation under control. An exclusion zone with a three-mile radius was put in place near the vessel. “Following a multi-agency response by police with support from the military and other emergency service partners, seven people were detained by police,” police said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times. All 22 crew members are safe and well and the vessel is now in the port of Southampton. British military personnel were involved in the operation in response to a police request, after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorised the action, the Ministry of Defence said. “I commend the hard work of the armed forces and police to protect lives and secure the ship,” Wallace said. “In dark skies and worsening weather, we should all be grateful for our brave personnel.” Navios Tanker Management, which operates the tanker, said on Monday it wished to “thank all the UK authorities involved in this operation for their timely and professional response.”
The Greek operator of an oil tanker stormed by British forces on Sunday has expressed gratitude to the UK authorities for their handling of the incident. British military personnel seized control of the tanker near the Isle of Wight on Sunday evening and detained seven stowaways on board, who had reportedly become threatening. Navios Tanker Management, which operates the crude oil tanker “Nave Andromeda”, said on Monday it wished to “thank all the UK Authorities involved in this operation for their timely and professional response”. Nave Andromeda is seen in Portishead, Britain, in a file photo. (Huw Gibby/via Reuters) Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorised the action in response to a police request, the Ministry of Defence said. “I commend the hard work of the armed forces and police to protect lives and secure the ship,” Wallace said. “In dark skies and worsening weather, we should all be grateful for our brave personnel.” The incident began on Sunday morning, when the master of the tanker informed the UK authorities that stowaways had been found on board and that he was concerned for the safety of the crew due to the increasingly hostile behaviour of the stowaways. The seven stowaways had illegally boarded the tanker in Lagos, Nigeria, the Greek firm told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement. The police received the call at 10:04 GMT, and were told the stowaways had made verbal threats towards the crew of the tanker, which was situated approximately six miles off the coast of Bembridge, Isle of Wight, according to a police spokesman representing the Hampshire Constabulary. Police worked closely with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and Border Force to get the situation under control. An exclusion zone, with a three-mile radius, was put in place near the vessel. “Following a multi-agency response by police with support from the military and other emergency service partners, seven people were detained by police,” the police said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times. The seven men were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force under Sec 9(1) and (3) of the Aviation and Maritime and Security Act 1990, the police said. “All 22 crew members are safe and well and the vessel is now alongside in the port of Southampton,” the police said. “Investigators are speaking to the crew members to establish the exact circumstances of what happened.” Refinitiv vessel tracking data showed the Liberia-flagged Nave Andromeda had been expected to arrive in Southampton at 10:30 GMT on Sunday. The vessel had departed from Lagos, Nigeria, the data showed. In December 2018, British forces stormed an Italian cargo ship and regained control after stowaways threatened crew as it sailed close to the southeast coast. French police last month dismantled a migrant camp in the northern port of Calais, from where thousands of migrants have sought to cross the English Channel to reach British shores. Several thousand migrants have attempted the crossing this year, often paying traffickers to help them traverse one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in overloaded rubber dinghies. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
The UK prime minister and the home secretary are accused of endangering the personal safety of lawyers through their abusive attacks on the profession and should apologise, more than 800 former judges and senior legal figures have said in a letter sent to the Guardian.Boris Johnson and Priti Patel are additionally accused in the letter of displaying “hostility” towards lawyers, undermining the rule of law and effectively risking the lives of those working in the justice system.The signatories include three former justices of the UK supreme court, five retired appeal court judges, three former high court judges, the lawyer heads of four Oxford University colleges, more than 80 QCs, 69 law professors from leading English universities, the directors of Liberty and Justice, as well as hundreds of law firm partners, barristers and solicitors.The letter is the largest coordinated response so far to increasingly vehement rhetorical attacks on the legal profession by the two Conservative politicians.In August, the Home Office published a video on Twitter blaming “activist lawyers” for frustrating the department’s efforts to deport people with no right to remain in the UK. The video was later withdrawn.Earlier this month, at the Conservative party conference, Patel broadened her targets, claiming that among those defending the “indefensible” and “broken” immigration appeals system were “do-gooders, lefty lawyers, the Labour party”.In his conference speech, Johnson went further, declaring he would prevent “the whole criminal justice system from being hamstrung by what the home secretary would doubtless – and rightly – call the lefty human rights lawyers, and other do-gooders”.Last week, a man appeared in court charged with carrying out a racist attack on a firm of immigration lawyers in London. Cavan Medlock, 28, from Harrow, faces six charges including preparing an act of terrorism. He has not yet entered a plea.The roll call of signatures protesting against the vilification of lawyers represents an extraordinary host of prominent legal experts united in a common purpose. Among the former judges are Lords Collins, Dyson and Walker, who recently left the supreme court, as well as onetime appeal court judges Sir Richard Buxton, Sir Anthony Hooper, Sir David Keene, Sir Alan Moses and Sir Stephen Sedley.The letter states: “We are all deeply concerned at recent attacks, made by the home secretary and echoed by the prime minister, on lawyers seeking to hold the government to the law.“Such attacks endanger not only the personal safety of lawyers and others working for the justice system, as has recently been vividly seen; they undermine the rule of law, which ministers and lawyers alike are duty-bound to uphold.“We invite both the home secretary and the Prime minister to behave honourably by apologising for their display of hostility, and to refrain from such attacks in the future.”In support of the letter, former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald QC said: “The home secretary may not grasp the indecency of her language, but the prime minister should know better.“Lawyers who represent demonised people are always attacked by populist politicians, but it is demeaning to our country and its institutions that the government itself is now dipping into this disreputable playbook.“It is precisely this sort of ugly authoritarianism that the rule of law is called upon to counter. The entire legal profession is proud of those lawyers who are being so crudely and dangerously vilified.”The former supreme court justice Lord Dyson told the Guardian: “What’s worrying is the inflammatory language used by the home secretary and supported by the prime minister. It was irresponsible and dangerous and quite unjustified to use inflammatory language of the sort. The language is almost the language of a demagogue.“We all now what happens when people in high places and in power resort to language of that kind … They are whipping up emotions without justification. It’s dangerous.”Dinah Rose QC, the president of Magdalen College, University of Oxford, said: “The people at the heart of government whose role it is to ensure that the legal system and the rule of law are respected have either decided to remain silent or their voices are not being listened to.“Where lawyers are abusing the system, they deserve to be criticised, but the problem is that the government’s attack is on any lawyer who is using the system to represent their clients. There’s an attempt to whip up hatred against lawyers for simply doing their job.”In a judgment last week upholding the right for migrants to have access to lawyers, the lord chief justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, also stated: “It is a matter of regret that a minority of lawyers have lent their professional weight and support to vexatious representations and abusive late [immigration] legal challenges.” A government spokesperson said: “The government rejects the underlying insinuation in this letter and is clear any form of violence is unacceptable. Lawyers play an important role in upholding the law and ensuring people have access to justice. They are however not immune from criticism.”
The UK home secretary, Priti Patel, is under fresh pressure after it emerged that she appeared to have dismissed intelligence briefings from counter- terrorism police to the Home Office over an alleged far-right terror attack. Officers from S015, the Metropolitan police counter terrorism command (CTC), notified the Home Office in mid-September that it was suspected that a far-right extremist had attempted to carry out a terror attack at a solicitors’ firm in London. Weeks later, on 4 October at the Conservative party conference, the home secretary intensified her criticism of “do gooders” and “lefty lawyers.” On Saturday night, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, the shadow home secretary, said: “The home secretary has fallen short of the high standards that the role demands. The use of such reprehensible and inflammatory language undermines the most important part of her job, which is to keep people safe.” Officers from SO15 were drafted in to investigate the attack on law firm Duncan Lewis, which occurred on 7 September after it became evident that extremism might be involved. Accounts from the firm, including eyewitness statements, formed part of the investigation. On Friday, alleged far-right extremist Cavan Medlock, 28, from Harrow in north-west London, was charged with attempting to launch a terror attack at the law firm last month. The Old Bailey heard that Medlock arrived at Duncan Lewis’s offices armed with a knife, handcuffs, a Nazi flag and a US Confederate flag with prosecutors saying he appeared to target the firm because of its involvement with immigration cases. Previously, the Observer has revealed that Patel ignored warnings from senior colleagues including the lord chancellor and attorney general as well as officials from the Bar Council and Law Society to stop targeting immigration lawyers following the incident. Sources say the Met notified MI5 and the Home Office last month of the incident and its far-right links. Separately, senior Home Office officials involved in its counter-extremism portfolio have said they were made aware of a suspected far-right attack before Patel resumed her attacks on immigration lawyers at the Tory party conference. A spokesperson for the Met confirmed that it was protocol to share intelligence and details following a suspected terrorist incident with the Home Office: “Counter terrorism policing works closely with colleagues from MI5 and the Home Office in the course of our investigative activity. This includes sharing, as and where appropriate, certain information and intelligence relating to our work with these partners.”They added: “There are well established protocols in place to brief government on the police response following major incidents, including terrorist attacks.” The chronology of events raises questions as to why Patel chose to keep attacking the legal profession. According to government documents, her remit is being “responsible for making sure our communities, in all [police] force areas, are kept safe and secure”. An online Home Office fact sheet on rightwing terrorism pledges that the department is committed to tackling far-right attacks, stating: “The threat from rightwing terrorism has evolved in recent years and is growing. That is why this government is taking urgent action to tackle it.” In addition, Patel has oversight of the security service MI5, which last year was given responsibility to take the lead in tackling rightwing terrorism, officially designated as a major threat to national security. This month, the new head of MI5 warned of its growing threat. Out of 27 terrorist plots disrupted in the past four years, eight have involved rightwing extremists. In addition, Patel’s department presides over the government’s counter extremism strategy, Prevent, which aims to help vulnerable individuals people from being radicalised to supporting terrorism. “With any case of domestic terrorism you need to look at the reasons behind it, its inspiration. This is why this is so serious,” said a source with knowledge of the case. They added: “If you had a dubious politician abroad inciting hatred and then a UK terror incident was traced back to what this politician had said then you can only imagine the measures that would be taken.”
Britain’s Home Office is planning to bombard illegal migrants’ smartphones with Facebook adverts asking them to not cross the English Channel, according to reports. Home Secretary Priti Patel, whose department is broadly responsible for borders, policing, and national security, hopes that targeting supposedly desperate migrants camped along France’s northern coast with discouraging messages in languages such as Kurdish may put
The Observer Priti Patel The home secretary’s rhetoric targeting the legal profession continued despite warnings that it led to violence