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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media – Tuesday 12 June

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Home Office in the media

Today’s Home Office-related stories include the situation Billy Caldwell and his family are facing, the Tier 2 visa cap and removal flights.

Billy and Charlotte Caldwell

There is extensive coverage of the case of Billy Caldwell, who suffers from complex epilepsy. His mother, Charlotte Caldwell, was stopped at Heathrow airport yesterday morning and had Schedule 1 cannabis oil seized. The papers carried statements from Billy’s mother who said that Border Force officials had been “absolute gentleman” and they carried the Home Office statement, which made clear that Border Force has a duty to stop banned substances from entering the UK.

The Policing Minister met Ms Caldwell yesterday afternoon to discuss her options and urged the family to explore licensing options with the Department of Health Northern Ireland.

Some newspapers are inaccurately reporting that Billy ran out of medicine last week after the Home Office “threatened to have the family’s GP disbarred if he prescribed more”. Some papers say Dr O’Hara was “summoned to a meeting with Home Office officials and told to stop”. This is untrue.

The Home Office’s last correspondence with Dr O’Hare was a response to his letter in 2017, after Dr O’Hara asked the Department specifically about the control status of CBD and other (controlled) cannabinoids. The Home Office has had no further contact with Dr O’Hare since.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The Home Office is sympathetic to the rare situation that Billy and his family are faced with.

The Policing Minister met Ms Caldwell yesterday and advised her that despite these extremely difficult circumstances, it is unlawful to possess Schedule 1 drugs such as those seized at the border this morning without a licence.

The Minister urged the family to explore licensing options with the Department of Health Northern Ireland.


Tier 2 visa cap

The FT and Times report that doctors, teachers and IT workers have been hardest hit by the cap on Tier 2 skilled visas since the end of last year.

Both papers cite FOI figures showing around 10,000 applications made by employers to sponsor non-EU skilled workers were refused between December and April this year. The paper says the figures show more than 2,000 applications to sponsor a doctor and more than 500 for engineers were refused over the same period.

The Immigration Minister discussed Tier 2 visas in the Commons on Monday and said:

We will continue building and managing an immigration system that meets the economic and social needs of the UK, and I will set out further plans in due course. I am committed to a fair and humane system, and we are reviewing the operational assurance regime across the borders, immigration and citizenship system to ensure that it is effective and reflects best practice.


Three staff per migrant on removal flights

The Times and Mirror report that flights removing illegal immigrants, foreign criminals and asylum seekers, have left Britain carrying as many as three staff for every passenger on board. Our response can be found below:

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The dignity and welfare of all those in our care is of the utmost importance and the Independent Monitoring Board rightly observed that returnees are generally treated kindly and with respect.

However, we are taking the concerns raised by the inspectors very seriously and are working with Mitie, our new escorting provider, to address their recommendations.

This includes introducing body worn cameras for escorts and interpreters to support the removal of those who do not understand English.

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