First ‘child migrant’ is exposed as an ADULT after his fingerprints appeared on the database used to check if criminals are entering Britain

First ‘child migrant’ is exposed as an ADULT after his fingerprints appeared on the database used to check if criminals are entering Britain

First ‘child migrant’ found to be over 18 after his fingerprints were checked
But he could stay in Britain as Home Office will still consider asylum claim
Charity TACT tweets false claims so-called ‘man in blue’ was an interpreter
Home Office forced to confirm that the migrant was not working for them

By MARTIN ROBINSON, UK CHIEF REPORTER FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 08:59, 21 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:09, 21 October 2016

One of the ‘child’ migrants brought to Britain from Calais has been exposed as an adult – but it was not the so-called ‘man in blue’, it was claimed today.

The asylum seeker, who has not been named, told British border officials he was under 18 but his fingerprints appear to have proved he was older.

A border source said the man was already on the UK’s biometric database, which could mean he has tried to enter Britain before or has a criminal record.

The Home Office refused to comment but MailOnline understands his case will still be considered and could still be allowed to stay in Britain.

He is understood not to be ‘significantly’ older than 18 but is not the Afghan ‘man in blue’ seen arriving from Calais this week.

Earlier this week former home secretary Jack Straw led demands for age tests on child refugees brought to Britain and warned the row over whether they were really adults risked undermining public confidence in the asylum system.

Last night a source told The Sun: ‘This is hugely embarrassing for the Home Office and it’s a complete mess.’

Another added: ‘If it’s only taken a few days for the first case to emerge, how many others will there be? ‘It will only increase the clamour for a far more stringent system to be enforced to verify age on arrival.’

With wrinkles around his eyes and stubble on his chin, the unnamed asylum seeker’s photograph this week sparked widespread doubts that he was truly a child and two charities assumed that the ‘man in blue’ was an adult interpreter .

A charity issued a humiliating apology yesterday for making the false claims about him.

TACT, the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity, sparked a frenzy by peddling the untruth about the Afghan ‘man in blue’.

The suggestion he was a Home Office translator helping officials at Croydon immigration centre was repeated unchallenged by the BBC and caused a storm on Twitter.

Celebrities including Gary Lineker quickly jumped on the bandwagon. But yesterday the Home Office debunked the myth by confirming the man was not a translator.

Microsoft’s face-recognition software, which offers an unofficial ‘fun’ guess at ages, rated the man as 38. But when his picture appeared in newspapers on Wednesday, TACT tweeted: ‘This is a picture of an adult interpreter working for @ukhomeoffice’.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme announced in its top headline that charity workers believed the photo did not show a migrant.

George Gabriel, of another charity, Citizens UK, went unchallenged when he told the programme: ‘We think one of the photos is actually a translator accompanying the children.’

The false suggestion quickly gained attention on Twitter, prompting users to complain about ‘lies’ in the Press – egged on by BBC pundit Lineker. Feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez wrote: ‘That’s an interpreter not a refugee.’ She later admitted her gaffe saying: ‘My bad not checking.’

By contrast the Daily Mail, one of the newspapers to use the photograph, had conducted extensive checks before publishing it.

Conservative MP David Davies, who faced an outpouring of bile after suggesting migrants should have dental checks to verify ages, said: ‘These charities have been caught out peddling false claims to suit their purposes, and the BBC should be ashamed of itself for repeating these claims without checking them.

‘My fear is that any adult posing as a child will quite possibly be placed in a foster home or classroom with real children.’

Last night a TACT spokesman said: ‘Our information was from a credible source. However, if the male is indeed a migrant and not an interpreter, TACT regrets any concern caused. The tweet has now been withdrawn as we do not want to cause any further distress.’

The BBC said it had reported claims as allegations, and had reported Home Office confirmation that the migrant was not an interpreter.

Meanwhile the row over the ages of the migrants rumbles on.

Dental tests are already being used to assess the age of migrants, the Daily Mail can reveal.

The Home Office is under fire for ruling out tooth X-rays for youngsters coming to the UK from The Jungle camp in Calais. Ministers claimed such checks were ‘inaccurate, inappropriate and unethical’.

But last night it was revealed that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the Home Office agency responsible for asylum claims, already accepts dental checks as proof of age, if provided by the migrant.

Guidelines said officials should give ‘considerable weight’ to reports from dental consultants who have assessed arrivals.

The UK has agreed to take around 200 unaccompanied children at the Jungle camp who have family in this country. MPs and immigration lawyers, backed by Labour former home secretary Jack Straw, led calls for dental tests to determine their age after some of those arriving appeared older than 18.

Citing guidance from the British Dental Association, the Home Office claimed dental X-rays were not accurate enough because they carried a margin of error of at least two years.

But UKVI documents entitled Assessing Age For Asylum Applicants showed that officials used such tests to check on some asylum seekers who were trying to prove they were children.

Critics said this torpedoed the Home Office’s claims that the tests were unethical, although Whitehall officials pointed out that the migrants involved were voluntarily taking the test to prove they were under 18.

Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘It is ludicrous that the Home Office is pooh-poohing the idea of using dental records to establish how old these people are, when its own guidance says the tests are accurate to within a couple of years.’

Mr Davies called for Home Office ministers to be hauled before the Commons to explain the child migrant fiasco.

Charity workers in the Jungle have admitted the majority of young migrants are lying about their age to get to Britain.

A Home Office spokesman admitted that UKVI did recognise dental records as a valid indicator of age in some cases, but insisted it did not seek them proactively. He added: ‘If records of this kind are submitted then they can be considered on a case-by-case basis. But the Home Office does not seek dental records itself.’

There were also claims last night that the Home Office was failing to check whether ‘child’ migrants were telling the truth about having family links to the UK.

David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association’s asylum, refugee and migration task group, said: ‘The Home Office are saying that they have carried out checks that family members exist but in fact local authorities are being asked to check out the relatives when the children arrive.’

The councillor from west London told The Daily Telegraph there were also shortcomings in the way the Home Office checked any relatives in Britain were able to look after a child.

If relatives were unable to do so, the migrants would end up in the care system at the local authority’s expense, he added.

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