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Home Office apology after Channel migrants sent to Priti Patel’s Essex constituency

Home Office chiefs have apologised for an ‘error’ after Nigel Farage was filmed visiting a hotel housing migrants in Priti Patel’s constituency.  

The Brexit party leader  yesterday claimed a hotel in Ms Patel’s constituency had been used to house asylum seekers after they had crossed the English Channel from France.

The former UKIP MEP shared a video on Twitter in which he is seen visiting the £54-a-night Rivenhall Hotel in Witham, Essex – the Conservative MP’s constituency.

In the video he claims asylum seekers were being put-up at the three-star-rated hotel, which is fully booked until January next year.

Mr Farage said the allegations were ’embarrassing’ for Ms Patel, who he said had ‘led the charge’ for the Conservatives in criticising the migrant situation and whose Home Office are responsible for providing accommodation to homeless migrants.

While sharing a shortened version of his seven-minute long video, he also accused the MP of ‘taking Britons for a ride’. 

Bosses at the Home Office say they have launched a ‘full review’ into their operation of finding temporary accommodation for asylum seekers who arrive in the UK without a home to go to. 

It comes as the latest figures show more than 900 migrants have arrived in Dover this month as calmer waters over the Channel present an opportunity for crossings in small boats.

Yesterday 112 people, including a baby, were picked up by Border Force officials off the Kent coast. 

No fewer than 4,468 people have made the perilous crossing this year.

It also comes after the Home Secretary last night sparked a diplomatic row by claiming in a private meeting with MPs that migrants were crossing the Channel to escape ‘racist’ France, where they feared they would be tortured. 

In Mr Farage’s video, posted to his 1.6million followers, the former UKIP MEP starts by referencing a YouGov poll, released on Thursday, which said 73 per cent of Conservative and Brexit voters are ‘concerned or very concerned’ about Channel migrants.  

He later turns his attention to Priti Patel, saying: ‘Leading the charge for the government in terms of criticism of all of this is the Home Secretary.

‘She has said what is happening in the Channel isn’t just unacceptable, she said that it is shameful.

‘But what may cause Priti Patel a problem, isn’t just that the tough talk at the moment is leading to no action and no change at all, but I think she may be about to get some criticism from her own constituents.’

He later says the Rivenhall Hotel, which was closed during the Covid-19 lockdown, claimed on its website to have reopened on August 3.

Mr Farage said following a tip-off he attempted to book a room at the hotel, but found he couldn’t as it was full until next year.

The MailOnline has also checked the hotel’s website for booking availability and found the next available date to be January 3, when 28 rooms are available, each costing £63. 

In the video, Mr Farage then enters the hotel before questioning a worker about the availability of its rooms, before leaving soon after.

He is later told to leave the property, before the video cuts to the former MEP sitting down with a drink.

After leaving the site, Mr Farage then tells the camera: ‘Now we can see it (asylum seekers being given hotel accommodation) is now happening in leafy Essex, in Priti Patel, the Home Secretary’s own constituency, the person who has been the most vocal and the most critical of what is going on in the English Channel.

‘And yet here it is on her doorstep and more significantly on her constituents’ doorstep.’  

In an earlier video, posted as a tease to what he described as his ‘bombshell’ allegations, Mr Farage said: ‘Priti Patel talks tough as Home Secretary, remember, she was going to end the cross-channel migrant crisis by Spring of this year, well its getting worse.

‘A thousand people have come in the last nine days alone.  They’re being put up and housed in hotels all over the country.

‘There is now a migrant hotel in her own back yard and her constituents are not happy.’

Responding to the allegations, a spokesperson for the Home Office said: ‘On Friday afternoon (14 August) the Home Office became aware that an error was made in placing asylum seekers.

‘This error was the result of operational failures where the correct policy and procedures were not followed.

‘The Home Office has a statutory obligation to provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with accommodation.

‘But they should be placed in major conurbations wherever possible so that appropriate support and services can be more readily provided.

‘As this is not the case in this instance, alternative accommodation provision has since been sought in accordance with the Immigration Asylum Act 1999 and the Asylum Support Regulations 2000.

‘A full review of this operation is now being conducted.’

MailOnline contacted the Rivenhall Hotel for a comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication. 

Sunday’s video was released after the Mail On Sunday revealed that between 20 and 50 hotels across Britain are being used to house migrants who have crossed The Channel.

Owners of accommodation, including four star hotels, are benefitting from the £4bn ten year contract.

The estimated monthly cost to accommodate each of migrant is thought to be around £560.

Responding to the Mail on Sunday’s investigation, a Home Office spokesman said: ‘A spokesman said: ‘The UK has a statutory obligation to provide destitute asylum seekers with accommodation and support whilst their application for asylum is being considered. 

‘Any temporary measures are kept under review and we are working with local authorities across the UK to secure the suitable longer term accommodation that is required.’  

Mr Farage has faced backlash for referring to the arrival of men, women and children arriving on Britain’s shores as an ‘invasion’.

Bafta-winning documentary maker and Syrian refugee Hassan Akkad said this week: ‘It’s definitely not an invasion. 

‘It’s ironic, Britain did invade Iraq and Afghanistan, but if Iraqis and Afghans now want to seek asylum in Britain then it’s ‘not our problem’ and we call it an invasion.

‘British made bombs are being dropped on Yemeni people and if Yemeni decide to flee and seek asylum in Britain, it’s ‘not our problem’.

‘I think the whole refugee and migrant issue is being exaggerated, it’s being used as a distraction because one per cent of the refugee population is in Britain.’

At least 15 more people arrived in the UK today, including a baby, after Border Force intercepted five vessels carrying 65 people yesterday.

Yesterday the Royal Navy was called in to help Border Force police the Channel for the first time since January 2019. 

On Saturday evening the Ministry of Defence announced that it was sending a specialist team to provide support for ‘the daily running of Border Force operations’ after another 90 people made the crossing on Friday. 

The deployment comes after 10 consecutive days of landings, with refugees seen possing for selfies as they wait to be picked up in the English Channel. 

A task-force of around a dozen officers will help to plan and organise operations while working alongside Border Force officials, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

‘Civilian authorities are not used to fast paced, large scale and constantly changing situations in the same way as the military. That’s what we do,’ an MoD source told the newspaper.

The Government has been facing mounting pressure to address the large numbers of people arriving on UK shores across the channel.

So far, this year has seen 4,500 people have made the dangerous journey this year. In contrast, the whole last year saw 1,800 people cross, and fewer than 400 in 2018.

Across The Channel in Calais, French officials have removed more established refugee camps, forcing migrants to move to more remote areas. 

Ms Patel sparked a diplomatic row last night by claiming migrants were crossing the Channel to escape ‘racist’ France, where they feared they would be tortured.

The Home Secretary’s inflammatory remarks, in a private meeting with Tory MPs, infuriated French politicians. One blasted: ‘Madam Patel is not a politician who does much thinking.’

But the row came as Europe’s top judges condemned France for ‘degrading and inhumane’ treatment of asylum seekers in forcing them to sleep rough for months in ‘constant fear of being attacked or robbed’. 

Tory MPs taking part in the Zoom conference call with Ms Patel also said she claimed to have been frustrated in her efforts to crack down on the Channel migrant crisis by No 10 – although both sides denied that last night. 

The private web chat with the Home Secretary came amid mounting anger on the Tory backbenches over how the Government was handling the migrant crisis. One MP claimed Ms Patel had told them: ‘France is a racist country. They would rather come to England.’

Last night, Government sources strongly denied that, insisting that the Home Secretary had only been passing on what migrants had been saying about France.

One stressed: ‘Priti made clear these were migrants’ views – not hers’, adding that the Home Secretary thought claims of possible torture if they returned to France were nonsense, pushed by activist lawyers. 

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