Czech gypsies refused aid

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The Independent Online
The flow of Czech gypsy asylum seekers into Britain switched from Dover to the centre of London yesterday as Westminster City Council leaders called on the Government to intervene.

A total of 60 Czech gypsies arrived at an advice and assessment centre in Westminster seeking asylum. Nikki Page, Tory chairman of the Westminster City Council's housing committee, said: "The Government has got to act. Local government cannot cope with these people."

The asylum seekers told officials that they had taken a coach to London to avoid a British National Party protest march in Dover tomorrow, but they were put back on a coach to return to Dover last night.

Ms Page estimated that in Westminster alone, the asylum seekers were costing pounds 169,000 a week - equivalent to an extra pounds 1.70p per week on the rates.

Ferry operators were yesterday taking legal advice after the Government threatened criminal charges over their refusal to pay for the return of Czech and Slovak gypsy asylum seekers at Dover. The immigration minister, Mike O'Brien, accused directors of the two biggest companies, P&O and Stena, of "flouting" the law following a heated meeting at the Home Office.

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