Search icon


25th Mar 2022

Priti Patel unlawfully seized asylum seekers’ phones, court rules

Ava Evans

The phones were taken before they could tell their families they were safe

Priti Patel’s secret policy of seizing mobile phones from asylum seekers arriving on small boats to the UK was unlawful, the High Court has ruled.

Three asylum seekers – known only as HM, KA, and MH – brought the case against the Home Office in January, claiming the home secretary operated a secret, blanket policy to seize mobile phones from people arriving across the Channel, before downloading the data from them.

The men, from Iraq and Iran, had arrived between April and November 2020 and had their phones confiscated upon arrival at Tug Haven in Dover.

They were told to provide PIN numbers to allow immigration officers to access and download their personal data.

The court heard from one of the claimants who had lost contact with his wife and child due to no longer having his phone to call them.

The Home Office admitted the practice was unlawful, and revealed it had self-referred itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office for breaches of the 2018 Data Protection Act.

The men were not allowed to use the phones to contact family members, or note down important phone numbers – a practice their lawyers claim had been used illegally on thousands of other refugees.

Related Links