2024 – 002 The Home Office and asylum

Steven Edginton


Exclusive: Whistleblower exposes Home Office’s asylum system: “I work in the Home Office deciding whether to grant people asylum, and I am terrified that one day one of my cases will end up on the news. There has been no internal communication about the recent acid attack case. Nothing. Not even an email telling us that they are looking into how it could have been allowed to happen. Instead we are bombarded with emails that celebrate things like “World Hijab Day’’ at the same time as I deal with cases of women claiming they cannot go back to Iran otherwise they will be forced into wearing these items. Asylum seekers will be coached, often by legal representatives or through friends and family (some of whom may have been granted asylum in the past), to concoct a reason they might be persecuted in their home country. They “convert” to Christianity, often coming with evidence of recent baptisms, or say they are gay and take pictures in gay nightclubs to prove it (some of these photos look as though they are very uncomfortable being there). In one instance a male claimed that he was gay, only to drop the assertion halfway through his asylum interview because he felt so disgusted by the idea. In one interview the claimant insisted that he was being persecuted in his home country due to his political beliefs. I asked him to name the leader of his nation’s opposition party and he couldn’t answer. He asked for a break and came back ten minutes later knowing everything about the political situation. The Home Office is hostile to those who speak up internally, unless their complaint is about diversity or discrimination or some other civil service obsession. Home Office directives and pressure to clear the backlog of asylum cases has caused caseworkers to cut corners. The default is now to err on the side of accepting people. For example, we have been told to cut down the time it takes to conduct asylum interviews, which has led to confusion and a lack of clarity over some cases. Even as someone who is sceptical of many applications, internal targets and incentives mean that I feel under huge pressure to accept people. It takes less than half an hour to accept a case, while it takes around a day to write up a report to reject someone (this is because you have to lay out the evidence as to why you rejected it for legal reasons, which is a timely process). The top brass have told us to be on the lookout for applications (even citing a string of recent cases), that use the same wording, or similar stories, and are often submitted by people using the same immigration lawyer. We know that many law firms tell applicants to submit the same hokum that has been proven to work previously but we have not been told to stop granting asylum in these cases.”


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