Smith apologises for asylum error

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Indy Politics

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has admitted the number of failed asylum seekers whose deportation flights are postponed because of their disruptive behaviour is almost double the figure previously released.

She has apologised after stating that there had been 1,173 such cases over two years - when the real figure is nearly twice as high.

In a letter to shadow home secretary David Davis, Ms Smith wrote: "It has now come to light that some of this information was incorrect and the figure is in fact 2,079.

"Please accept my sincere apologies for the error.."

A Home Office spokeswoman said the mistake was down to an administrative error.

Many asylum seekers throw tantrums or become aggressive when they are to be deported in a bid to scupper their removal by convincing air crews to have them taken off flights.

The spokeswoman added that the number of disruptive cases were only a "small proportion" of total removals and arrangements were subsequently made for those individuals to be accompanied on a future flight by escorts.

Mr Davis said: "The blunders and chaos in the immigration and asylum system looks set to continue in 2008.

"Not only is the Home Office failing to deport people who have no right to be here, it continues to be unable to get a grip on its facts and figures."

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