(Photo: Policy Exchange)
It seems that hardly a day goes by without one of the tabloids publishing made-up stuff about our borders, immigration and the impact of the EU on controlling population flows.
The latest example comes from multiple offender the Daily Mail, who would have you believe that UK border officials are just rolling over and waving through known terror suspects simply because they brandish an EU passport.
In an article called EU RULES FORCE BRITISH OFFICIALS TO CHOOSE BETWEEN HANDING TOP SECRET INTELLIGENCE TO TERROR SUSPECTS OR LETTING THEM WALK INTO BRITAIN UNCHALLENGED (a trademark long-winded title), Tory Justice Minister and Brexit campaigner Dominic Raab (pictured) claims to have uncovered an ‘obscure ruling’ from the European Courts.
The paper claims that if UK security officials want to refuse entry to a terror suspect from the EU, they must justify it by handing over intelligence that has been gathered on the individual. This includes handing over paper files, ‘even where to do so would endanger national security’.
The paper goes on to state that Mr Raab has warned that ‘thousands of criminals and suspected fanatics who could otherwise be turned away are being allowed to waltz through the UK’s porous borders, owing to Brussels rules on free movement’.
Mr Raab adds that in the last decade, only 11,000 EU nationals have been turned away at border control compared to 200,000 non-EU nationals.
Alarm bells would be ringing with most rational readers by this point. Are we really to believe that, in this time of heightened global security and increased anti-terror measures, border police have to choose between handing over all the security files on terror suspects or allowing them to walk in unhindered?
According to the article, it all comes down to Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. But a quick look at Article 47 shows that this is merely about the right to a fair trial (below). So should someone pursue legal action upon being denied entry, they are entitled to fair representation and fair treatment (for PDF of the full Charter, click here).
Which surely most people would agree is fair enough, unless we want to start living in an authoritarian state where people can be jailed or expelled without any recourse.
The Daily Mail article seems to be based around a particular case where a man with joint French-Algerian nationality was refused entry to Britain on account of Islamic terrorist activities in Algeria in the 1990s. The man appealed to the European Court of Justice. The Daily Mail claims that the ECJ ruled that the Home Secretary must disclose security information to the man, thus endangering national security.
But this is blatant misinformation. The case, which was heard in 2013, clearly states that information given is ‘limited to that which is strictly necessary’ and that the man is entitled only to be informed of the ‘essence’ of the grounds on which the decision was made, taking into account the ‘confidentiality of the evidence’ (see below – full details of the case available here).
In other words, a suspected terrorist was refused entry at the UK border. He appealed demanding to know the grounds for the decision. The ECJ ruled that he was entitled to know only limited information, due to the risk to national security.
In some ways, this is the complete opposite to how the Daily Mail and Mr Raab have reported it. Absolutely no evidence whatsoever of the thousands of terror suspects coming in unchecked or of intelligence files being handed over to them as they’re sent away.
As for the 11,000 EU nationals turned away compared to 200,000 from outside the EU, it’s an erroneous comparison as the 200,000 were turned away for a multitude of reasons. Only a small percentage were related to terrorist activities. Nobody is denying that there are fewer restrictions in general for visitors from EU countries.
With still over a month to go until the EU referendum, there is likely to be a lot more of this disinformation ahead.
Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.