Leave camp makes “criminal” error on deportations

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 07.06.2016

Vote Leave has produced a dossier of criminals it says “the European Court has prevented us deporting”. Ramping up the fear-mongering, it added: “These cases include offenders convicted of murder, rape, robbery and drug trafficking.”

The snag is that, in each of the 50 cases, it was British tribunals that stopped deportation. Not the European Court.

What makes the untruth doubly breath-taking is a comment by justice minister Dominic Raab blaming “unelected judges in the rogue European Court”. One would have thought a justice minister worth his salt would be able to get the facts straight in his supposed area of expertise.

We can deport EU migrants if they pose a serious threat to public security. Immigration law expert Alper Riza QC told InFacts that the British home secretary decides whether or not  criminals pose a sufficient threat to justify deporting them. If the individual objects, he or she can appeal to a British tribunal.

It is true that the British tribunals do have to take account of EU law, and they can ask the European Court of Justice for an opinion on the general application of the law. But, even then, it is up to the British tribunals to evaluate the ECJ opinion and apply it to the facts at hand. At no point can an individual appeal to the ECJ.

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    One could, of course, say that EU law sets too high a bar in demanding that migrants must pose a serious threat to public security before they can be deported. That’s exactly what David Cameron successfully argued in his renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU.


    The deportation test was modified in several ways. In future, the threat only needs to be “likely”, it doesn’t have to be imminent, past conduct can be looked at in determining the threat and a person can be deported on a preventative basis.

    Odd that Vote Leave didn’t mention any of that.

    Vote Leave did not respond to requests for comment

    Edited by Hugo Dixon

    5 Responses to “Leave camp makes “criminal” error on deportations”

    • Vote Leave’s list named one of the people the UK was prevented from deporting as Learco Chindamo, an Italian national who murdered Lawrence in 1995. Attempts to deport him failed because he had been in the UK since he was six years old and for more than a decade before he committed the crime.
      Another on the list was Mircea Gheorghiu, who served a jail sentence for rape in Romania before moving to the UK, where he was convicted of drink-driving. He was deported but a tribunal ordered his return on the grounds he did not pose a serious enough threat to society to restrict his freedom of movement.
      In the case of a second rapist, known as MS, from Lithuania, a tribunal said his deportation could not be justified “on the basis of his previous criminal conviction even of such a serious nature as rape and attempted rape”.


    • Don’t forget Theresa Rafacz, a Polish woman jailed for killing her husband by repeatedly stamping on his head in a “gratuitous” attack. Apparently not serious enough a crime to remove her, so allowed to stay in Britain thanks to EU rules.