Tory MP Tim Loughton detained and deported by African country with close links to China

Tim Loughton, who was santioned by Beijing in 2021, said he was held at the airport for seven hours

Joe Middleton
Monday 29 April 2024 10:59 BST
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MP Tim Loughton said the experience of being detained was “very lonely and frightening”(PA)
MP Tim Loughton said the experience of being detained was “very lonely and frightening”(PA) (PA Wire)

A Tory MP and former government minister claims he was deported during a trip to Djibouti because of the east African country’s close relationship with China.

Tim Loughton, who was santioned by Beijing in 2021, said he was held at the airport for seven hours, barred entry from the country and then sent back to the UK on the next available flight.

China imposed sanctions on a number of MPs, including Mr Loughton, after the country said they had “maliciously spread lies and disinformation” about human rights abuses against the Uighur people.

The MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, who was in Djibouti for a 24-hour visit on 8 April, described the experience as “very lonely and frightening”.

He told the BBC: “I told them I was a member of parliament and then it went all very frosty.

“Djibouti is effectively a vassel state of China - what China wants, Djibouti kowtows to and having a troublesome MP who has been sanctioned by China turning up on their doorstep was clearly something they didn’t want to entertain.”

Mr Loughton said he was held for an hour in the arrivals hall, before later being taken to a holding room for three hours and then sent back on a flight to Britain.

He added: “This was another example of how the tentacles of the Chinese Communist Government extend far and wide, and their malign influence in sensitive parts of Africa is particularly worrying.

“Yet the intimidation of countless others who have dared to speak out against China’s industrial scale human rights abuses and who do not have the platform an MP raises serious concerns.”

The UK’s Chinese embassy has been contacted for comment.

Mr Loughton is co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Tibet, which has previously shone the spotlight on China’s record on human rights abuses.

He has previously called for a UN investigation into the “use of slave labour” in China and said the country is a “serial abuser” of human rights.

Mr Loughton is one of more than 100 MPs who are standing down at the next election.

The veteran backbencher, who has represented East Worthing & Shoreham since 1997, wrote in April that it was “wiser to leave five minutes too soon than to continue for five years too long”.

In a letter to his local Conservative association, Mr Loughton said: “It has been a great honour to have served as the Member of Parliament for the newly created East Worthing and Shoreham constituency since 1997.

“With the help of a fantastic local party association, we have fought seven general elections successfully.

“By the time of the next one I will have spent more than 27 years in Parliament. After much reflection I have decided now is the right time for me to move on and hand over to someone new.

“As former Cabinet Minister John Biffen appropriately put it: ‘In politics I think it is wiser to leave five minutes too soon than to continue for five years too long’.”

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