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UKBA apologises for approving wrong statement on child detention

UKBA detained child, broke Clegg’s pledge

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3rd February 2011: Even though Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in a speech on January 7 claimed that not even a single innocent child was detained after the coalition took over, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has apologised for approving the statement without going through the statistics.
Clegg has now been told the agency was wrong to do so, because of the case at Gatwick, which came to light at the end of last month when its statistics were "reconciled".

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has now issue a formal apology for holding an 11-year-old girl in an immigration removal centre on Christmas Day against the pledge by the Coalition Government to end such cases.

While apologizing, UKBA authorities said they would revise their procedures to ensure errors like this do not reoccur and to ensure that border cases are clearly flagged.

The child was held overnight with her mother and adult sister at Tinsley House near Gatwick Airport after being declined admission to Britain. They were deported on Boxing Day.

UKBA’s acting chief executive Jonathan Sedgwick, in a communique stated that the UK Border Agency officials had cleared this announcement in advance without being aware of the discrepancy.  He added, “I apologise for this error."

The incident, disclosed to The Independent, has enraged ministers because they had promised to end child detention for immigration purposes by Christmas.

Nick Clegg in a speech January 7 had claimed that they made sure by their first Christmas in office, not a single innocent child was under lock and key. Clegg had asserted that in Labour’s last year alone over 1,000 innocent children were locked up for immigration purposes and they had drawn a line under that scandal.

Coming down heavily on the previous Government’s record on civil liberties, Clegg said Labour had made Britain a place where young, innocent children caught up in the immigration system were placed behind bars.

A source close to Clegg said the Deputy Prime Minister was totally fuming when he came to know about this. Reacting he reportedly said,” I’m sure this was an honest mistake. But if the public are to have confidence in our new system, then we have to get these things exactly right.”

He asserted the commitment to ending child detention was one that Liberal Democrats were rightly proud of.

A Government source confirmed that a family intercepted at Gatwick Airport on 25 December and refused entry.

In accordance with the published policy for border cases, the family was admitted to Tinsley House overnight while return flights were arranged for the next day. The family was held for less than 24 hours. The Government did not disclose the family’s nationality.

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