Lib Dems to veto Tory plans to send controversial ‘go home’ vans nationwide

Immigration Minister sas Home Office could extend the mobile posters if its study of a £10,000 pilot scheme in London showed it had been a success

Political Editor

The Liberal Democrats have vowed to veto plans by Conservative ministers to bring back the controversial advertising campaign telling illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest”.

Mark Harper, the Immigration Minister, said the Home Office could extend the mobile advan posters nationwide if its study of a £10,000 pilot scheme in London showed it had been a success.

“I don’t see any problem with saying to people who have no right to be in the United Kingdom they can’t be here anymore,” he told the BBC’s Question Time programme. “If it’s successful we’ll look at rolling it out, if it’s not successful, we won’t.”

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the poster was misleading because of the number of arrests mentioned in it but rejected complaints that it was racist. Critics claimed it harmed race relations.

The Lib Dems insist they were never told about the Home Office campaign. A senior party source said yesterday: “The Liberal Democrats have always been clear that we completely disagree with these poster vans. This is a Coalition Government and for that reason, this campaign will not be rolled out nationally.”

Downing Street has defended the Home Office’s decision to send text messages to recipients suggesting they are illegal immigrants, even though some were sent to the wrong people. Responding to a report in The Independent, David Cameron’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister agrees with the principle of the texts. It is one of various means the Home Office contacts people who may not have the right to remain in the UK.”

The Home Office said only 14 people out of a total of 58,800 contacted were mistakenly asked if they had overstayed their visas. But campaigners said the number of errors was much higher and Labour attacked the practice as “shambolic and incompetent”.

David Hanson, Labour’s immigration spokesman, said: “These messages will rightly cause distress and offence to British citizens, many of whom have done much to contribute to our society. It is simply wrong for this sort of message to be sent by text, and to be so poorly targeted.”

Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, described the text messages as “utterly repugnant”, “abhorrent” and “the sort of behaviour one would expect from a fascistic police state.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea