Posted on October 26, 2018
Tory government issues major apology for ‘illegally’ forcing Gurkha and Afghan families to take DNA tests
A new hostile environment scandal erupted as grovelling Home Secretary Sajid Javid admitted relatives were wrongly ordered to provide the tests – or be refused permission to the settle in the UK
A new hostile environment scandal erupted today as the Home Secretary issued a grovelling apology for wrongly forcing scores of Gurkha and Afghan families to take DNA tests.
Tory Sajid Javid admitted relatives of war heroes were wrongly ordered to provide the tests – or be refused permission to the settle in the UK.
It is understood that more than a thousand relatives of Afghan nationals who worked for the British armed forces could have been affected by the scandal.
While 51 Gurkhas and their families had been affected.
“No one should have faced a demand to supply DNA evidence and no one should have been penalised for not supplying it,” he said.
“I would like to extend my apology to those Gurkhas and Afghans who have been affected.
“I am sorry that demands were made of them that should never have been.”
In the summer the Home Office had stated that the policy was entirely voluntary
Today’s revelation prompted fresh attacks on the “nasty culture” in the Home Office after the Windrush scandal – and new questions about its capability to cope with more than 3million EU citizens after Brexit.
It follows the revelation officials forced people to take DNA tests to prove their child’s right to residency even when the children had UK passports
Campaigners said forcing immigrants to take DNA tests was another example of the “punitive decision-making” and part of Theresa May ’s “hostile environment” for immigrants.
Asked by Labour if the requests were “illegal”, Mr Javid replied: “My understanding is the Home Office has never had the express power to require anyone to give DNA”.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said MPs would be “shocked” that those affected were “men and women who put their lives at risk to keep this country safe”.
Mr Javid said three cohorts have been discovered so far of hundreds of people forced to provide DNA samples under “unclear or wrong” guidance.
The first group was 51 children of Gurkhas, who fought in the UK military. Four of them were refused permission to settle because they did not provide DNA evidence.
The second group involved 398 cases under Operation Fugal, which dealt with suspected abuse of the paternity system. Of those, seven were refused for not providing DNA evidence.
Lastly, all Afghan families who resettled in the UK since 2013 have been wrongly told they had to undergo DNA testing. Their tests were paid for by the UK government and so far, it’s not thought any were refused entry.
According to figures revealed in March, this includes 450 locally employed civilians and 700 family members.
Those affected will be reimbursed, Mr Javid told MPs.
A task force has been set up to investigate any further breaches.
The government will also launch an independent review informed by Wendy Williams, who investigated the Windrush scandal.