Brexit campaign accused of 'distorting real picture' over claim EU stops UK deporting dozens of criminals

'The bigger picture is that our access to the European Arrest Warrant has allowed us to deport 6,500 European criminals since 2010. That's 130 times the number of criminals Vote Leave have identified'

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Indy Politics

The official Brexit campaign has been accused of “distorting” the facts after complaining that EU regulations have prevented the UK from deporting dozens of foreign criminals, including killers and sex offenders.

The dossier of 50 criminals, published by Vote Leave on Tuesday includes Learco Chindamo, who was convicted of the 1995 murder of headmaster Philip Lawrence. The UK has been unable to deport him, according to the Brexit campaign.

Dominc Raab, the justice minister who disclosed the details, said British families were being put at risk as a consequence of EU membership.

The dossier also highlights the case of a Lithuanian rapist identified in court papers as MS, who the upper immigration tribunal ruled could not be deported “simply on the basis of his previous criminal conviction even of such a serious nature”.

It includes six offenders convicted of homicides including murder, manslaughter and death by dangerous driving.  It includes the case of Chindamo, who was 15 when he murdered Mr Lawrence outside the head teacher's school in Maida Vale, north-west London, in 1995. He came to the UK aged six from his native Italy and won a battle against being sent back to the EU state.

Remain campaigner Lord Mandleson, however, speaking on Sky News accused Vote Leave of “distorting” the facts and said that while it was right to raise the 50 criminals, they must also take into account the 6,500 criminals deported from the UK since 2010 because of the European Arrest Warrant

He said: "They take a germ of truth, they then generalise from it and in the process they distort the real picture.

Man tries to burn EU flag, can't because of EU law for flammable materials

Vote Leave warned that EU free movement rules prioritise the rights of criminals over public safety by preventing deportation. The group claimed the problem would get worse as the European Court of Justice uses the Charter of Fundamental Rights to entrench the right of offenders to stay in the UK.

“This is yet more evidence of how EU membership makes us less safe,” Mr Raab added.

“Free movement of people allows unelected judges in the rogue European Court to decide who we can and can't deport. This puts British families at risk. It squanders UK taxpayers' money on keeping them in prison - and that's on top of the £50 million we send to the EU every day.

“Outside the EU, we can take back control of our borders, deport more dangerous criminals, and strengthen public protection. That's why the safer choice is to vote Leave on 23 June.”

But James Brokenshire, the immigration minister, dismissed the complaints and also highlighted the 6,500 European criminals deported because of the arrest warrant.

He added: “The UK sought greater control over the deportation of foreign criminals in its EU renegotiation - and that's precisely what the Prime Minister's deal delivered.

“The International Law Decision we secured means our ability to deport foreign criminals is strengthened, and it is now clear that the UK can take into account the full background of a criminal in a decision over whether to deport.

“The bigger picture is that our access to the European Arrest Warrant has allowed us to deport 6,500 European criminals since 2010. That's 130 times the number of criminals Vote Leave have identified.

“If we left the EU, we could no longer use the European Arrest Warrant. That's just one of the reasons we are safer inside the EU, where we can co-operate to deal far more effectively with crime and security.”

On Monday Vote Leave were accussed of “fanning the flames of division” after publishing a map highlighting how the EU will a share a border with Syria if Turkey gains membership. In their referendum campaign material, set to be sent to millions of people across the UK , Vote Leave claimed that five countries – Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey – are "set to join the EU”. Only three territories are actually named on the map: the UK, Syria and Iraq.