Rod Liddle

Bordering on insanity

We can’t get rid of jihadis, sex gang ringleaders and drug lords – so we try to deport old ladies like Myrtle Cothill

Bordering on insanity
Text settings

[audioplayer src="" title="The Spectator Podcast: the deportation game"]


[/audioplayer]For once it seemed that we were getting tough. Our patience had apparently snapped. We had been worn down by the constant news stories about foreigners whom the UK government was unable to deport — the child rapists, the fraudsters, the thieves, the gangsters, the jihadis who want us all dead, and just your plain old common-or-garden illegal residents. It always seemed that the more vile and murderous the individual and the more misery he or she intended to wreak upon the rest of us, the more likely they were to be given leave to stay here by some idiotic judge. But Myrtle Cothill was a bridge too far. When the Home Office read the case of Cothill they knew something had to be done, sharpish. So for once they acted with ruthless rapidity and decisiveness: Cothill was told, in no uncertain terms, that she must get on a plane within four days — the Home Office stipulated a Tuesday morning — and return from whence she came. Get out and stay out.

Myrtle is a white South African widow aged 92 who wished to see out her final days with her daughter in the UK. Ha — tough luck, Myrtle, pull the other one, you devious cow. We know your kind. The Home Office even prepared to send an official along to Heathrow with Cothill — presumably in case she turned nasty or tried to do a runner.

She had committed no crime other than to overstay the period stipulated on her visa — and in doing that, she performed for us a considerable service, which we will come to.

Myrtle has now been told (a little grudgingly) by the Home Office that she can die here if that’s what she really wants. This volte-face is a consequence of the furore and astonishment that was whipped up when her case came to light — a petition with 150,000 names on it demanded she should be allowed to remain here. And so her story has a happy ending. But it also proved a very valuable point. Myrtle is just about the only person the Home Office is capable of deporting. In order to be deported from the UK, the alien must be possessed of the following characteristics. They must be white. They must come from a comparatively pleasant country. They must have a valid passport. They should pose no threat whatsoever to the rest of us. They should have committed no crime. Any illegal resident who manages to tick all of those boxes had better start packing a suitcase. The rest of them — the murderers, rapists, head-chopping maniacs et al — well, they can stay. As long as they like. Despite all Theresa May’s promises, she’s barely changed the number of foreign criminals we deport. It was 5,500 back in 2009 and the latest figure is 5,600.

The Home Office minister Richard Harrington has recently admitted that there are more than 30,000 known (an important qualifier) bogus asylum seekers who cannot be deported because he doesn’t know where to send them. They won’t tell him where they’ve come from, no matter how pleasantly he broaches his enquiries. And they’ve all burned their passports. So under the Dublin Convention none of them can be kicked out, and in any case Mr Harrington hasn’t got a clue what country they should be deported to. The number of bogus asylum seekers we manage to get rid of has halved over the past five years.

But that’s just the arrivals who have as yet committed no crime other than to come here illegally. Once they’ve committed a crime, and preferably a very serious crime, it doesn’t matter how much money the taxpayer spends on the merry-go-rounds of the immigration courts, they ain’t going nowhere.

Take the case of a chap called Baghdad Meziane. Baghdad is a convicted al-Qaeda terrorist, with links to the maniacs who blew up Paris quite recently. He was convicted in a British court of raising money for al-Qaeda (and also of the ubiquitous credit-card fraud) and sentenced to 11 years in prison. At his trial the judge pointed out, perhaps unnecessarily, that Meziane was a very dangerous man and recommended deportation once his term of incarceration had expired. Fat chance, m’lud. Meziane was actually released from prison five years early — and allowed to resume a useful and productive life in his adopted home town of Leicester, rather than put on the first available plane to Algiers (from whence, despite that cunning forename, he originates). Baghdad argued that to deport him would contravene his human right to a normal family life. And so despite lengthy legally battles, Leicester is where he will remain.

Or there’s J1. That’s not his name, of course. We haven’t been told his name because that would breach his privacy, heaven forfend. J1 is a known friend and colleague of one Mohammed Emwazi, usually referred to by his stage name of Jihadi John, the Islamic State’s late and most revered head-chopping lunatic. J1 is known to be a senior organiser for Somalia’s exciting Islamic terror franchise, al-Shabab, and has links to the Muslim extremists who tried to blow up London on 21 July 2005. For five years we tried to kick him out, but we have now given up and he is not even under surveillance any more. Hell, there are so many of these murderous maniacs running around, how on earth can one keep tabs on all of them?

Or how about CS — yes, it’s that privacy thing again. But at least we know that CS is a Moroccan woman and the daughter-in-law of the hook-handed madman Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, now serving a life sentence in the USA for terrorism-related offences. It’s the European Courts of Justice blocking her deportation, because she is the sole carer of her son in this country (yep, and you are of course the sole breadwinner for the both of them, incidentally). She was found smuggling a sim card into Hamza’s Belmarsh cell. Can’t get rid of her.

Tired of the jihadis? There’s always the child rapists. Shabir Ahmed, aged 63, is serving a 22-year sentence for having been the ringleader of a gang of Pakistani paedophiles in Rochdale. Ahmed is petitioning the European Court of Human Rights to prevent his deportation. He claims that his trial was ‘institutionally racist’ because 11 of the jury members were white (i.e., roughly proportionate to the UK population as a whole). The Home Office may fight, but I suspect Shabir will be staying with us.

We can’t even get rid of the -criminals who actively want to leave. Mohammed Faisal is a convicted ‘drug lord’ who is reportedly ‘desperate’ to get back to Pakistan. But we’ve messed up his papers, so he’s staying put.

And what of the Yardies? The Jamaican crims, blud. We couldn’t send them to serve their sentences in Jamaica because the prisons are so bad it would breach their human rights. So in desperation we’re spending £25 million on building them a nice prison there, maybe with views over Montego Bay.

There is a plethora of national and supra-national legislation protecting the rights of the foreign criminal: the Human Rights Act, the Dublin Convention, the -European Court of Human Rights, the European Courts of Justice. But none protecting the rest of us.

And yet the problem is largely of our own making, much though we may blame ‘Brussels’, the catch-all scapegoat for this ludicrous charade. Between 2001 and 2010 we deported nine jihadis from the UK. During the same period the French deported 129. They act first and ask questions later, without giving the villains a chance of appeal. But we’re British and do things by the book — as Myrtle Cothill discovered.