THE HOME Office has been forced to apologise after people were wrongly deported for refusing to take DNA tests to prove they were entitled to settle in the UK. A Home Office review found there were at least 449 cases where letters had been sent with the demand.
Three different areas have been identified in the last couple of years where people have been sent letters which said that they have to take DNA tests. One was an anti-fraud campaign called Operation Frugal which started back in April 2016, in that 83 letters were sent out to people saying that they had to have DNA letters. 83 subsequently had their applications refused and seven of those had their application refused only because they refused to take this mandatory DNA test.
People were having their applications refused because they did not want to do something which the Home Office was not allowed to ask them to do. The two other areas were: Ghurkas requesting their families try to join their relatives in the UK and those who worked with the British military in Afghanistan. Both groups were sent letters demanding DNA tests.
Tory Home Secretary Javid told the House of Commons that it was ‘unacceptable’ and claimed that the guidance was ‘unclear’. He said: ‘Today I want to take this opportunity to apologise to those affected by this practice. The provision of DNA evidence should always be voluntary and never mandatory.
‘I am determined to get to the bottom of how and why, in some cases, people were compelled to provide DNA in the first place. ‘Across our immigration system, no-one should face a demand to supply DNA evidence and no-one should have been penalised for not providing it.’
He said those affected would be reimbursed and he announced he had set up a task force to investigate any further breaches. The review will be informed by Wendy Williams, who investigated the Windrush scandal.
Meanwhile, a Newcastle family will not be forced to move back to Australia to stay together after the Home Office reversed its earlier decision to deny the father a visa. Following a campaign from the University and College Union (UCU) husband Jeff has been given a residency permit.
Alison Atkinson-Phillips said: ‘I am so grateful to everyone who helped raise the profile of our case. It has been a stressful time, but I am so pleased we can now all get back on with our lives. No one wants to be in a position where they have to choose between their career and their family.’