Influential committee chair announces inquiry into 'disgraceful' Home Office deportation letter blunder

Labour MP Yvette Cooper
Labour MP Yvette Cooper
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The chair of Parliament's influential Home Affairs committee has announced an inquiry into a Government error which led to dozens of EU nationals receiving letters warning them they face removal from the UK.

Commenting on the decision, Labour MP Yvette Cooper labelled the mistake "disgraceful", warning that it will have caused "huge anxiety and distress for families who suddenly fear being split up".

Her intervention came after the Home Office apologised and said an urgent investigation has been launched into the error.

A spokesman stressed that everyone who received a letter is being contacted by the department and informed "that they can disregard it".

It is understood that around 100 letters were wrongly sent to EU nationals warning them they face detention and removal from the UK.

The situation came to light after a Finnish academic posted about correspondence she received from the department on social media.

Eva Johanna Holmberg, who is married to a Briton, was told she had a month to leave. She was also warned that she was "liable to be detained".

Dr Holmberg, a visiting fellow at Queen Mary University of London, tweeted: "Home Office wants to deport a Finnish academic who is married to a Brit and pays taxes in Britain, i.e. me."

Responding to the news, Ms Cooper announced the Home Affairs Select Committee will be taking evidence when Parliament returns.

"This is disgraceful - and will have caused huge anxiety and distress for families who suddenly fear being split up even though they are fully entitled to be here," she said.

"We cannot afford for the Home Office to make mistakes like this. Ministers will need to set out how many other errors have been made, and what is being done to remedy them."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey said the letters "shame Britain".

He added: "EU nationals who have made their lives here are already facing huge uncertainty over Brexit. It is appalling that some are now being officially threatened with deportation.
"This catastrophic error is a sign of the chaos and incompetence at the heart of this Conservative government."

A Home Office spokesman said: "A limited number of letters were issued in error and we have been urgently looking into why this happened.

"We are contacting everyone who received this letter to clarify that they can disregard it. We are absolutely clear that the rights of EU nationals living in the UK remain unchanged."