European Union citizen detention letters sent in error

Henrietta Strickland
August 24, 2017

The Home Office has admitted it mistakenly sent as many as 100 letters to European Union nationals threatening they will be deported from the United Kingdom within a month.

Eva Johanna Holmberg, who is married to a Briton, was told she had a month to leave.

Her £65 application was turned down, apparently due to a technicality, and Ms Holmberg decided that because the document would make no difference to her status she would not appeal.

Theresa Villiers said the erroneous letters were "completely unacceptable" but was quick to reassure Europeans there was no change in their right to remain in Britain.

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

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Ed Davey said these letters "shame Britain". He added: "EU nationals who have made their lives here are already facing huge uncertainty over Brexit".

A spokesperson for the UK Home Office said "a limited number of letters" were sent by mistake and the department is "urgently looking into why this happened".

"It is appalling that some are now being officially threatened with deportation". He said the "catastrophic error" was "a sign of the chaos and incompetence" at the heart of government.

Officials from the Home Office spent yesterday phoning those who had been sent the letters to say sorry to them and to explain that it had been an unfortunate error.

Dr Holmberg, who works at London's Queen Mary University, had originally applied for a "qualified person certificate" before receiving the letter. "This absurd decision has been made despite me paying taxes here, being married to a Brit and now gainfully employed as a seconded employee of the University of Helsinki, thus qualifying for this "qualified person" status".

The historian described her experience as a "Kafkaesque nightmare". There is free movement of people. "All for a piece of paper I don't even need".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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