UKBA left red-faced after anti-racism campaigner and anti-fascist Suresh Grover and immigration caseworker Bobby Chan were sent text messages telling them to leave the country
In addition to the issue of harassment of migrant workers, this case is all the more chilling because of what it proves about government agencies having access to and knowledge of everyone's mobile phone details, and because it shows the govt using that information to target intimidation at anti-racist campaigners -
Less than two weeks since the Home Office anti-immigration vans were banned by the advertising watchdog for using “misleading” statistics, the UK Border Agency has come under fire for telling an anti-racism campaigner and an immigration adviser to leave the country in a text. On behalf of UKBA, private contractor Capita sent leading campaigner Suresh Grover a text telling him he had no right to live here. The same text was sent to Bobby Chan, an Immigration Caseworker at Central London Community Law.
Mr Grover, who founded the anti-racism charity The Monitoring Group, has campaigned for justice for Stephen Lawrence, Zahid Mubarek and Victoria Climbie. He also runs race relations advice surgeries across London. He told the Independent “ I was absolutely shocked and quite horrified to receive the text. I thought it wasn’t meant for me. I came here with my parents in 1966, I was born in East Africa and have always had a British passport.”
Mr Grover rang the number on the text and got through to Capita. They told him that he was indeed the right recipient of the text. Despite explaining he had lived in Britain for 50 years, the woman on the other end of the line pressed for more information. “The more I talked to the woman the more angry I got,” Mr Grover said.
“She was asking for more personal information about me and was not telling me where she got my number. I’m not going to be giving them information I don’t think they deserve. I think it’s outrageous sending people random texts without knowing who they are sending them to. I was angry but i was also bemused, because of the work I do. But I think people who don’t work in this area may take them seriously and be worried they don’t have the right to live in the UK. It’s horrific.”
Mr Grover said he realised he wasn't alone when talking to his acquaintance Bobby Chan, who had received the same message. Mr Chan is accredited immigration adviser at a central London law centre who has given evidence as an expert witness to the Home Affairs select committee. Yet he received a text stating “Message from the UK Border Agency. You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have right to remain.”