https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/18/home-office-in-the-media-blog-thursday-18-july/

Home Office in the media blog: Thursday 18 July

Home Office in the media

Today's leading stories include coverage of the extradition of Hashem Abedi, the brother of the Manchester Arena bomber, an APPG report into the Test of English for International Communication and councils' opposition to the Rough Sleeping Support Service.

Hashem Abedi extradited to UK

There is widespread coverage on broadcast and in papers this morning of Hashem Abedi’s extradition from Libya to the UK.

The Guardian reports that Abedi, brother of Manchester Arena attacker Salman Abedi, was extradited yesterday to face multiple murder charges over his alleged role in the attack. Abedi was arrested in Libya following the attack in May 2017, and although counter-terrorism officers had been granted a warrant for his arrest, they spent years negotiating his extradition with Libyan authorities, the paper reports.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

The extradition of Hashem Abedi is an important step forward in the investigation into the Manchester Arena attack. It’s important we now let the law take its full course.

My thoughts remain with the victims and their families who have endured so much. I would also like to pay tribute to the continued efforts of the dedicated police officers and all others who have worked tirelessly on this case.

APPG report on TOEIC

The Independent covers a report into the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), published by the APPG group on the issue.

According to the report, the Home Office ignored expert advice and relied on “dodgy” evidence when it accused almost 34,000 students of cheating in English language tests in 2015, the paper reports.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

The report does not reflect the findings of the courts, who have consistently found that the evidence of fraud was enough for us to take action.

As the National Audit Office recently highlighted, the Tier 4 system was subject to widespread abuse in 2014 and almost all those involved in the cheating were linked to private colleges which the Home Office already had significant concerns about.

The National Audit office was also clear on the scale and organised nature of the abuse, which is demonstrated by the fact that 25 people who facilitated this fraud have received criminal convictions.

Councils condemn plan to share data on rough sleepers

The Guardian reports that local councils in England are refusing to share sensitive personal data of rough sleepers with the Home Office for fear it could be used to deport them.

The Guardian understands that nine councils; Brent, Enfield, Islington, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Liverpool, Oxford and Rugby, will not share the data unless explicit consent has been given. Some local authorities have criticised the programme as a manifestation of the “hostile environment” policy, the paper reports.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

We are disappointed with the councils’ statements and have been clear that the Rough Sleeping Support Service (RSSS) is not using charities or local authorities to target rough sleepers.

The RSSS was established last year to help non-UK nationals sleeping rough resolve their immigration cases and access the support that they need.

Charities and local authorities use the service on an entirely voluntary basis and no information is passed to the Home Office for assistance without their knowledge.

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