Clarke urged not to deport Zimbabweans

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Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, was under intense pressure last night not to order the deportation of more than 100 Zimbabweans who have been refused political asylum in Britain.

The Home Office maintain that they are not at risk of being persecuted by Robert Mugabe's regime if sent home.

But Kate Hoey, a Labour MP who visited Zimbabwe under cover, said the decision was "outrageous". Ms Hoey helped secure a last-minute reprieve for a Zimbabwean opposition leader, Crispen Kulinji.

She said: "It's outrageous that over 100 Zimbabwean people are being threatened with deportation."

Her call was backed by the Labour MEP Richard Howitt. He told Radio 4's Today programme: "When you compare [what the British Government has said] with what Amnesty International says about deliberate political killings and acts of torture against the opposition in the country, I don't think we can have any real confidence that those returned will be safe."