THE UK Home Office has ignored for the second time a call from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to respond to The National’s request for it to review its refusal to answer a freedom of information (FOI) request.
In a case that has been dragging on since March, we wanted to know how many asylum seekers had been deported from the UK after removal orders were issued through “human error”, as happened in Isabella Katjiparatijivi’s case.
The Namibian had been wrongly held at Dungavel awaiting removal, despite the Home Office claiming that no removal instruction had been issued. It later confirmed that the order had been issued and blamed “human error”.
The issue had far-reaching implications and Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes, told the SNP’s Chris Stevens, Katjiparatijivi’s MP, that an internal review had been launched after the error came to light.
She said: “Revised guidance and training is being provided to all officers who authorise the serving of removal directions”.
Our original FOI request was refused when the Home Office said it would cost more than the £600 cost limit.
However we disputed its claim that its systems “cannot identify cases where there has been alleged ‘human error’”, and asked for an internal review.
When we received no response, we contacted the ICO, which wrote to the Home Office giving officials 10 days to respond, adding: “Internal reviews are referred to in the section 45 Code of Practice, and significant or repeated unreasonable delays in dealing with internal reviews will be monitored by the enforcement team. In some instances regulatory action may be necessary.”
That was in the middle of June, but by the beginning of this month we had still heard nothing from the Home Office.
We wrote to the ICO yesterday, and await with interest whether or not enforcement action will be taken against the Home Office.