SubScribe: Jumping to scandalous conclusions on asylum Google+

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Jumping to scandalous conclusions on asylum

front pages 05-01-16

Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story. Nor, it seems, should ignorance be any bar to righteous indignation.

A Sudanese man called Abdul Rahman Haroun made headlines last August when he evaded security and walked the length of the Channel tunnel to England. He was arrested a mile into Kent and charged with obstructing an engine or carriage using a railway.

Yesterday he appeared in court via a video link and was granted bail when prosecutors were given 14 days to consider whether to proceed. They may not do so because the court was told that Haroun had been granted asylum in Britain.

This, according to the Express, is a "new migrant scandal". Both it and the Mail are concerned that the episode may encourage others to embark on similarly dangerous escapades. Eurotunnel is not happy. Nor, unsurprisingly, are the Tory MPS, Ukip MEP, and Migration Watch spokesman wheeled out to give an opinion. They, perhaps reasonably, make the point that you're supposed to make asylum applications in the first safe country you reach.

But the thing is, we don't know why this man was granted asylum. It is Home Office office policy not to say. And surely that is the central fact required to determine whether this is a scandal liable to lead to reckless and dangerous copycats, or a civilised country's response to one man's particular circumstance.

What we do know is that there is a huge backlog in dealing with asylum applications - another scandal in the eyes of the whitetops - so there may have been a compelling reason for the fairly swift ruling in this case.

Sudan is not a very nice place. It is a world where child soldiers, attacks on civilians and torture are part of daily life, where freedom of expression is non-existent, Here is last year's Human Rights Watch report on the state of the country. Haroun may, indeed, be a chancer - or he and his family may be at risk of their lives. You have to be pretty desperate to cross Europe and then pull a stunt like that.

If he had been a British soldiers fleeing a Nazi prison camp, he would be a hero of derring do. But because this man is African, it goes without saying that he is a scrounger totally undeserving of the hostel accommodation and thirty-odd quid a week we are giving him to live on.

There's nothing like good old-fashioned British hospitality.


  1. To think it a civilised country's response to one man's circumstance and to think it might encourage others to embark upon similarly dangerous escapades are surely not mutually exclusive thoughts?

  2. Of course not. the choice was between whether it was a scandal (that might lead to copycats) or a civilised response.