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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Flora Thompson

Embattled Home Secretary visits migrant facilities in bid to grip crisis

PA Wire

Embattled home secretary Suella Braverman has visited Manston immigration centre amid mounting pressure to get a grip on overcrowding at the site.

She also visited Western Jet Foil processing centre in Dover on Thursday morning and was pictured in a life jacket onboard a UK border force boat.

Ms Braverman was later photographed arriving in a Chinook helicopter for a visit to Manston short-stay centre in Thanet, Kent.

The government is facing a judicial review over poor conditions at Manston, with immigration minister Robert Jenrick confirming the government has received “initial contact” for the legal action.

Home secretary Suella Braverman (centre) during a visit to the migrant processing centre in Dover, Kent (PA)

Charity Detention Action also said that they had sent a pre-action legal letter to Ms Braverman, together with a female asylum seeker who had been in Manston.

The letter contended that the woman had been unlawfully detained by the home secretary in “egregiously defective conditions.”

Climate minister Graham Stuart conceded on Thursday that the site was not operating legally and “none of us are comfortable with it”.

Ms Braverman did not take any press questions during her visit to Kent, and is expected instead to release a written statement and pictures following the visit.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Home Secretary is visiting Western Jet Foil and Coastguard HQ in Dover this morning.

“She’ll meet with Border Force staff and military personnel to discuss operations in the Channel, she’ll then be in Manston this afternoon where she will speak with staff and receive an update on the situation on the ground.”

It comes as the government is facing increasing pressure over its immigration response and Ms Braver has been criticised for using divisive language about migrants, following her claims the south coast was facing an “invasion”.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrives in a Chinook helicopter for a visit to the Manston immigration centre (PA)

On Sunday, Dover’s Western Jet Foil immigration processing centre was the target of a petrol bomb attack, which is now being investigated by counter-terrorism police.

In his final tweet before the attack, suspect Andrew Leak, 66, threatened to “obliterate them Muslim children” and said women would be burnt alive.

Suella Braverman is expected to visit Dover on Thursday (EPA)

Two people were hurt in the attack, and Leak was found dead afterwards at a nearby petrol station.

Ministers have tried to control numbers at the Manston processing centre and said hundreds of asylum seekers had been transferred out of the site in the past few days.

Three Afghan men wait to be dealt with by officials outside a migrant holding facility at Manston Airfield (Getty Images)

However, at least 60 people have been abandoned at Victoria coach station after being taken out of Manston on buses. 11 asylum seekers were found stranded at the station on Tuesday evening.

The homelessness charity Under One Sky, who helped the men left at the station, said: “They were cold, hungry and frightened & spoke no English.  It appears that the refugees had been erroneously sent to Victoria by coach from the Manston Centre by the Home Office.

Migrants board a bus to leave a holding facility at Manston Airfield on 2 November (Getty Images)

“Under One Sky worked with the Home Office through the night to get the refugees safely to a hotel.”

The Home Office said: “The individuals were transported to Victoria coach station, London, because they said they had accommodation in that location which would not leave them destitute.

“They told us they had accommodation with friends or family available to them.

“Any suggestions there was an error in transporting the individuals to Victoria is wrong.”

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