Allegations of mistreatment made by a group of Iraqis in the Guardian newspaper have today been rejected by the UK Border Agency.
The failed Iraqi asylum seekers and migrants claim they were beaten by border officials and Iraqi police while on a return flight to Baghdad.
The flight included individuals tried and convicted of crimes in the UK including serious sexual offences, drugs offences, grievous bodily harm and burglary.
Attempts to damage aircraft
Matthew Coats, head of the UK Border Agency’s immigration group said: ‘We reject all allegations that Iraqi returnees removed from the UK were mistreated by our staff.
‘We can confirm that 49 Iraqi nationals were removed on a charter flight to Baghdad on 6 September. On arrival in Baghdad, approximately 35 returnees refused to disembark, assaulted escorting staff and attempted to damage the aircraft.
‘Minimum force - which means control and restraint techniques by trained personnel - was used to effect disembarkation for this group.’
Use of force
As laid out in UK Border Agency policy, minimum force is used only in circumstances where an individual becomes disruptive or refuses to comply.
In such situations, highly trained officers will deploy force for the shortest possible period to ensure individuals comply and to prevent individuals from harming themselves, others or the aircraft.
Matthew Coats added: ‘We only return those who both the UK Border Agency and the courts are satisfied do not need our protection and who refuse to leave voluntarily.’