'Go home' vans legal threat shelved

Illegal immigrant advert van
Image caption The advertising watchdog is investigating complaints about the campaign

A refugee group said it would not take legal action over a scheme that saw vans drive through London calling on illegal immigrants to leave.

The Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (RAMFEL) took the decision after the government said it would consult groups before launching campaigns.

The Home Office said it would consider the effect on migrants living lawfully in communities.

The pilot is being investigated by the advertising watchdog.

'Offensive' campaign

The Home Office said it did not consult communities where the mobile billboards were used as there was no legal requirement to do so for a pilot project.

The forum initially said it was supporting two migrants who wanted to bring legal action.

Last month law firm Deighton Pierce Glynn, told the Home Office it had until 8 August to agree to end the "offensive" campaign or they would apply for a judicial review.

Rita Chadha, from the forum, said the group was pleased with the Home Office response.

She said: "We remain vigilant to the possibility of other attacks and policies that increasingly view immigration only as a negative, encourage miscommunication between local communities and seek to create divisions within British society."

Advert inquiry

The Home Office said it made no apology for carrying out immigration enforcement operations, but ministers were deciding whether future campaigns would be conducted.

The Advertising Standards Authority has started an inquiry into "go home or face arrest" vans following complaints that the adverts were offensive and irresponsible.

The pilot scheme has also faced criticism from the Liberal Democrats and civil liberties group Liberty.

Vans were driven around Barnet, Hounslow, Barking and Dagenham, Ealing, Brent and Redbridge as part of the campaign, which started on 22 July and lasted for a week.

The Home Office has said the pilot worked, but did not say how many people had left the country.

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