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The Guardian view on asylum failures: David Neal was sacked for telling the truth | Editorial

The Guardian view on asylum failures: David Neal was sacked for telling the truth | Editorial

The Guardian view on asylum failures: David Neal was sacked for telling the truth | Editorial
Mar 03, 2024 57 secs

“There is a role in public life, for sure, for people who speak truth to power,” said David Neal, the sacked UK borders inspector, at a hearing of the home affairs select committee last week.

Mr Neal found out that 10 private jets a week arrived in London City airport last year without occupants undergoing passport checks.

His final annual report criticised the Home Office’s “reluctance to engage” and his termination looks like an act of revenge by an administration furious that its failings have been exposed.

Mr Neal criticises a culture that “prioritises office‑bound policy over on-the-ground experience” and recommends stronger engagement with the British Red Cross and UNHCR, which are “incredibly knowledgeable partners”.

The backlog of asylum claims must be reduced, but Mr Neal said that there was a fixation with doing so “at all costs”, leading to what he called perverse outcomes, with quality sacrificed to speed.

Inspections cannot be completed, important work cannot begin and the judicial review regarding events at Manston asylum centre in 2022, including diphtheria and scabies outbreaks and a man’s death, is imminent (Mr Neal said conditions there were “wretched” and left him “speechless”).

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