Home Secretary Theresa May will make it harder for foreign criminals to stay in Britain

Tuesday October 4,2011
By Martyn Brown

TOUGH new powers will make it easier for foreign criminals to be kicked out of Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May will announce today.

She is to tear up a key part of human rights law that has let illegal immigrants and foreign criminals stay because of their “right to a family life”.

In a move that risks detonating a new explosive Coalition row, Mrs May will say she intends to change how British law interprets Article 8 of the European ­Convention of Human Rights.

This will seek to ensure it is applied in a “more balanced way”, sources said.

It follows a series of cases where foreign criminals have been able to use Article 8 to escape deportation.

These include a Caribbean drug dealer, who allegedly beat his partner and refused to pay child maintenance, and a Sri Lankan robber, who claimed the right to remain because of a girlfriend here.

They argue that they have been in Britain so long that they have a family or have built up a relationship here and it would be damaged by their removal.

Theresa May is to tear up a key part of human rights law that has let illegal immigrants and foreign criminals stay

This argument was used in more than half of all successful appeals against deportation last year.

Last month rapist Akindoyin Akinshipe avoided deportation from the UK after European judges ruled kicking him out would violate his right to a family life. The 24-year-old Nigerian has no partner or children but the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ordered the British Government to let him stay and pay £3,500 of his legal bill.

Tory MP Dominic Raab said last night: “This is a welcome step but the rules must be enshrined in an Act of Parliament to prevent foreign criminals frustrating deportation orders on ­spurious grounds.”

The changes will endear Mrs May to many Tories infuriated by current use but it is likely to inflame Coalition tensions with senior Lib Dems, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, who have opposed any moves to change the Act.

Recent analysis shows foreign prisoners who have served their time in the UK are increasingly fighting being booted out by turning to Article 8. In the last three months of 2010, it was used in six out of 10 successful appeals.

Home Office figures show that between October and December last year there were 162 successful appeals against deportation by foreign criminals. Of those, 99 were allowed under Article 8.

If that number is repeated throughout the year, up to 400 foreign criminals will be allowed to stay in the UK instead of being returned to their home country because of their right to a family life.

Immigration Minister Damian Green is expected to reveal a raft of new measures to curb immigration, spelling out powers to tackle sham marriages, enforcement of a stricter settlement ­system and a more robust removal processes.

He will say: “It is the the aim of these measures to bring net migration back to those sustainable levels, in the tens of thousands, that we saw before the last Labour government wrecked the ­system.”

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