Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has condemned the Home Office for their failure to act after suspected illegal immigrants were seen escaping from a lorry in his constituency. A Home Office reply to the MP‘s question has finally made clear that the Immigration Service made no effort to trace the dozen or so adults once they had left Wheathampstead.

    Commenting on the failure, Peter said, “Hertfordshire Police did respond rapidly to reports of a so called ?star burst? of illegal immigrants from a lorry in Wheathampstead. However, they only apprehended three children out of a total of about fifteen individuals. I therefore asked the Minister what steps had been taken to trace the twelve adults seen escaping from the scene. It is clear from the Minister‘s answer that no steps have been taken at all. It is a disgrace that Ministers have prevaricated for several months before slipping out this acknowledgement of Home Office inaction.

    “Clearly it would not have been easy to try to track down these individuals. However, had immediate notification been given to the Met there would have been a chance of success. In addition, it should have been possible to interrogate the adolescents who were detained and to try to trace where the group came from and how they entered the country.

    “It is clear that the Home Office is totally paralysed in the face of illegal immigration. It is a department which remains, ?not fit for purpose?.?



    The text of the question and the Minister?s answer in full are given below:

    “Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action the Immigration and Nationality Directorate is taking to trace the 17 suspected illegal immigrants seen leaving a lorry in Wheathampstead on 14 July.

    Mr. Byrne: The Immigration Service (IS) is committed to responding to requests by the police to attend clandestine events, such as lorry drops, whenever and wherever operationally possible. In this instance on 30 June Hertfordshire police advised the Immigration Services that three people had been identified after the police responded to a report that approximately 15 individuals had been seen leaving a vehicle in Wheathampstead.

    They were arrested and taken to Hemel Hempstead police station. Since they were unaccompanied children they were subsequently released into the care of social services.?

    Hansard, Wednesday 18th October, Column 1299W