Home Secretary Amber Rudd to receive a second round of grilling over immigration removal targets
Furious MPs have recalled the Home Secretary to explain why she failed to read a memo on her department’s deportation goals.
They will also haul her permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam before a powerful Commons committee to quiz him over who knew what.
It means the pressure on Ms Rudd to quit is unlikely to diminish yet – and could even get worse.
Labour’s Yvette Cooper, who chairs the home affairs committee, has ordered the pair to give further evidence.
She said: “We have obviously been given inaccurate information to Parliament twice now. This is a serious concern and I am calling Amber Rudd to come back and give further evidence to the committee.
“I think we will also want to hear from the permanent secretary as well, because this raises some questions about the way the Home Office is operating.”
The latest twist in the Windrush scandal came hours after Ms Rudd made a grovelling apology after a leaked memo cast doubt on her claim she was unaware of removal targets.
Only last Wednesday, she had told the committee: “We don’t have targets.”
But a leaked internal document from June 2017 referred to a target of 12,800 “enforced returns” in 2017-18.
It also boasted: “We have exceeded our target of assisted returns.”
Tory chairman Brandon Lewis was last night dragged into the row after it emerged the memo was also sent to him, along with a number of officials and advisers.
He was immigration minister at the time and critics are demanding he explains why he didn’t flag it up to his then boss, Ms Rudd.
Ms Rudd has resisted calls to quit saying she is “sorry” for not being aware of the document and admitting a lapse.
She declared: “I wasn’t aware of specific removal targets. I accept I should have been and I’m sorry I wasn’t.
“I didn’t see the leaked document, although it was copied to my office as many documents are.”
She will attempt to quell the row by making a Commons statement tomorrow (Mon) to respond to “legitimate questions that have arisen” on targets and illegal immigration.
But the committee summons makes it unlikely her public apology will not draw a line under the row.
The Windrush row erupted after it emerged migrants from Commonwealth countries who settled in Britain from the 1940s but could not prove they had lived here continuously were threatened with deportation.
Ms Rudd admitted that local targets for removal had been set but claimed she had never agreed to their use.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott yesterday (sun) said none of the Windrush generation would be satisfied until Ms Rudd resigns.
She added: “They set a broad numerical target which led to individuals being wrongly threatened with removal.
“It wasn’t saying, for instance, we have to have a target for deporting former criminals.
"The danger was that the broad target put pressure on Home Office officials to bundle Jamaican grandmothers into detention centres.”
But Tory ministers rallied round the Ms Rudd last night.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove described her as “a highly talented and highly effective minister” and put the memo oversight down to the “complexity” of modern government.
He said: “When documents that should be placed in front of a Home Secretary aren’t then placed in front of a Home Secretary, that is sad, that is regrettable.
“But she was very clear both in her apology and also in the face that this specific document wasn’t placed in her ministerial red box. It wasn’t brought to her attention. It wasn’t a matter for decision.
“It was specifically prepared for another minister. It was sent to his office. It was copied in to the Home Secretary’s office.
“There are hundreds of documents which are copied into a secretary of state’s office every day and week. Some of these are not then brought to the secretary of stat’s attention.”
Mr Gove added: “The Home Secretary has been rapid, gracious and determined to deal with this. Labour are attempting to weaponize this. I think that is quite wrong.”
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