Tag Archives: human-rights

MP thanks immigration enforcement officers

V__DE67Mark Reckless MP was honoured to meet officers of the Home Office’s immigration enforcement team while in Rochester.

The officers, based in Folkestone and working across the South East, took time out of their busy schedule to discuss their duties with UKIP MP Mark Reckless following an impromptu visit to Rochester’s Register Office.

Immigration enforcement officers play a major role defending our borders, tackling illegal immigration and human trafficking. Mark was delighted to have the opportunity to meet officers and hear their views on the pressures which they face in this hugely important role.

Mark Reckless said:

“If we are to succeed in getting immigration down to manageable levels, it is vital that we not only take back control of our borders by leaving the EU but that we listen to and support our officers who are working hard on the front line. I was therefore delighted to have the opportunity to hear the views of enforcement officers first hand. It is clear that more must be done.

David Cameron promised to cut immigration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. He failed. Ministers really should spend more time meeting with and listening to the officers who are leading the fight and who understand the complexity of the problem, as opposed to special advisors and mandarins in Whitehall who tell them what they think they need to hear.

My thanks to all of the officers who took time out of their busy schedule to share their concerns.”

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Tackling the big issues

markreckless (2)It is an honour to represent the Rochester and Strood constituency since being elected as our MP in 2010. I enjoy the opportunity to assist many of my constituents with a wide range of problems. I am sometimes able to use my position to assist constituents personally in situations where the constituent feels they are being treated unfairly by intransigent bodies or powerful individuals. Whist I am not successful in all of my efforts on behalf of constituents, I always try my best to deliver the best possible outcome.n

I was elected to represent my constituents in Parliament – not government in my constituency. Much of my time is spent dealing with local constituency matters but, as a Member of Parliament, and particularly as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, I also have the opportunity to focus on some of the big national issues which are of importance to my constituents – immigration, crime, policing.

Over the bank holiday weekend I have been speaking on a number of these issues on local and national media and some of these are reproduced below. If you have an opinion, let me know by leaving a comment below or get in touch.

On Crime

On Prisons

On Islamic Extremists

On Border Controls

VIDEO: Refugees should accept asylum in first appropriate country

Speaking on BBC’s South East Today, Mark Reckless MP has called on French authorities to accept responsibility for asylum seekers gathering in Calais hoping to enter the United Kingdom.

VIDEO: Life should mean life regardless of what Strasbourg says

Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, debates prison sentencing with former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and calls on the government to ignore the European Court and maintain whole-life sentencing for the most heinous crimes, saying life should mean life.

VIDEO: Mark Reckless calls on France to take on migrant responsibility

Speaking on this evening’s BBC South East news programme item, Mark Reckless MP called for France to take greater responsibility in shouldering the burden of non-EU migrants seeking a better life in Europe:

Blog: Mail on Sunday Article on Abu Qatada

Theresa May’s comic career may have begun this week. Unfortunately for me, I was the butt of her joke – a pun on my name. Answering my question in the Commons last week about whether the Government should ask the Supreme Court to rule on a key development in the legal wrangle over terror suspect Abu Qatada, the Home Secretary concluded her reply by saying: ‘Dare I describe urging the Government to break the law as a rather reckless step?’

Of course, I am used to puns on my name, or worse. Indeed, I probably have it easy compared to my family, who are doctors, and particularly my father, who graduated from medical school with a Dr Butcher, a Dr Carver, a Dr Coffin and a Dr De’Ath.

However, I am a lawyer, so was less amused by Mrs May’s suggestion that I was inciting law-breaking.

This was not my first altercation with her. It is my job, as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, to hold the Home Secretary to account and scrutinise her department’s work. Even under the omnipresent chairmanship of Keith Vaz, this is not always an easy task.

Theresa-May-006The first challenge is to get the Home Secretary to appear. Mrs May last offered us a date several weeks ahead, saying it was the first she could possibly accommodate. We only persuaded her to bring it forward to last week when we explained that the later date would mean a joint appearance with London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Select committees are not easy for all Ministers as, unlike in the chamber, MPs can pursue follow-up questions. Members are now elected, so we can hold our ground with Ministers. Under the old system insufficiently deferential MPs could be booted off committees by the Whips.

MPs and Ministers are also face-to-face and pretty much around a table. Some commentators suggest that the Home Secretary has a particular Select Committee style, and will sometimes ‘adopt a Medusa-like countenance’ or, worse, deploy her ‘death stare’.

The second challenge is getting information out of her, as her stratagems for withholding it are legion. The staple stand-by, of course, is ‘security’.

However, another technique of the Home Secretary is to promise information but not provide it, as she did with me regarding reports written by Brodie Clark, the Head of the UK Border Force, on a crucial and hotly disputed pilot programme to relax immigration controls.

Mrs May lost Nick Herbert, her high-profile Policing Minister, shortly before the first Police and Crime Commissioner elections, and her Permanent Secretary shortly afterwards. At the beginning of her tenure there were reports that an official was suspended after allegedly criticising her in private.

However, the fall-out over Mr Clark has probably been her highest-profile personal spat, although Brian Moore, whom she had hailed as his successor, was also quickly out the door, just after telling the Select Committee that he wanted to stay.

Mark RecklessThe Home Secretary’s allegation against Mr Clark was that he relaxed border controls on an unauthorised and clandestine basis. Having identified him, she assured the Commons that officials responsible would be ‘punished’.

Unfortunately for Mrs May, an investigation later found that Mr Clark had referred to his relaxation of controls, both in a presentation to the UK Border Agency board, and in a number of reports written for her and others. It was in this context that I received perhaps the most tetchy response from the Home Secretary – although there have been quite a few – when I asked her if she could confirm whether Mr Clark’s ‘punishment’ had stretched to six figures.

Here she fell back on her least reliable defence – legal advice – and simply refused to answer my question, saying that her lawyers had advised it would be unlawful to give the information. Given that her lawyers in another context were unable to count up a number of days correctly, it will not surprise readers to learn that the law actually required her to provide the information.

So Mrs May later let it slip out, as a footnote to a table of accounts in a rather dense annual report, that Mr Clark received a £225,000 pay-off.

Overall I believe that the Home Secretary is doing a good job. Crime is down and, with the support of able Immigration Ministers, she is delivering on our promise to cut net immigration from hundreds of thousands to just tens of thousands a year. However, on the issue of Abu Qatada I believe that she has got the law wrong.

abu_qSome MPs and many more voters support the ‘just put him on a plane to Jordan’ option. I don’t. I believe that if we cannot do what we want within the law, then we always have the option of changing the law.

However, neither do I support the Home Secretary’s approach, which I have termed ‘a craven surrender to Strasbourg’ and which has left us looking impotent and unable to protect our citizens.

Instead, I support ‘the Judge approach’. Our top judge, the Lord Chief Justice, like me, has a fantastic name for his role – his being Lord Judge.

He has said: ‘The decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg do not bind our courts. The statutory obligation is to take account of the decisions of the court in Strasbourg . . . the final word does not rest with Strasbourg, but with our Supreme Court.’

So, instead of just complaining about Strasbourg moving the goalposts, the Home Secretary should follow the Judge approach and do something about it.

She should ask our courts, and ultimately now the Supreme Court, to move the goalposts back to where they should be, and where they were when our own highest court last considered the matter, and said Qatada could be deported.

Extraordinarily, the Home Secretary has stubbornly set her face against this approach, writing to me on December 3, 2012, to say that ‘the strategy in the case has been carefully considered at every stage by Government lawyers and leading counsel’. Given their record, that does not inspire confidence.

Mrs May continued: ‘A decision was taken to adopt the test laid down in January by the Strasbourg court because we considered the domestic courts were bound to follow it.’

So, the Home Secretary has decided to ignore our Lord Chief Justice and instead submit to Strasbourg.

Not only does this mean that Abu Qatada is still here, to our peril and at our expense, but a precedent is set for yet another area of national life. We appear yet again to have conceded sovereignty to Europe.

The Home Secretary has one last chance to put that right with her appeal to the Supreme Court. I hope the Prime Minister will ensure she takes it.

I have one last piece of friendly advice to Mrs May: in future I suggest she leaves the jokes to Boris Johnson, who does them so much better.

Original article – click here

Blog: Are you saying, Home Secretary, that Strasbourg is now supreme?

Theresa-May-006Yesterday I suggested to the Home Secretary that she might ask the Supreme Court if it, or the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, has the final word on interpreting the European Convention on Human Rights. She concluded her reply by saying:

“I fully understand the frustration felt by my hon. Friend and others who share his views, but our options involve operating within the law, and I believe that we should operate within the law or change the law. Dare I describe urging the Government to break the law as a rather reckless step?”

I am well used to puns on my name – if not to apparent jokes from the Home Secretary – and I probably have it easy compared to family who are doctors, particularly my father who went to medical school with a Dr Butcher, a Dr Carver, a Dr Coffin and a Dr De’Ath.

However, as a lawyer I have never urged the government, or anyone else, to break the law. What makes me angry is that we appear to be accepting, without even testing the matter in court, that it is Strasbourg, and not our Supreme Court, which is supreme in human rights matters.

This is despite the fact that Parliament has legislated (in the Human Rights Act) that our courts need only have regard to, or take account of, the Strasbourg court. We have never required our courts to follow Strasbourg rulings.However, instead of allowing our judiciary to interpret that law as passed by Parliament, the Home Secretary has repeatedly withheld this key constitutional matter from the courts, and simply submitted to Strasbourg.

The Home Secretary complains that Strasbourg has shifted the goalposts, but it is she who decided to accept the new test invented by Strasbourg. She has repeatedly stated in court documents and through her QCs that our courts should apply the new Strasbourg test, rather than the previous test under which the House of Lords ruled Qatada could be deported.

So, not only is Abu Qatada still here, but we risk this key constitutional question – does Strasbourg or our Supreme Court decide – being settled by default, and by the executive, in favour of Europe.

All I have urged is that the Government ask the UK judiciary if they will uphold the prior law as determined by Parliament, rather than judicial legislation from Strasbourg. How can that be “urging the government to break the law”?