Asylum seeker's friends seeking answers one year on from raid death

By Jordan Davies
BBC News

  • Published
Media caption,
"It might be something that's repeated"

Asylum seekers are continuing to work "illegally" more than a year after a Sudanese man died during an immigration raid, according to support workers.

Mustafa Dawood, 23, fell through a roof while fleeing immigration officers during a raid at a car wash in Newport last June.

Support workers have criticised the lack of public information.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was finalising its report on the incident.

Workers at The Sanctuary refugee group in Newport supported Mr Dawood and are calling for asylum seekers to be given the right to work legally.

Project manager Mark Seymour said: "There are people working illegally, just because if you live on £5 a day, that's ok to keep you alive but if you need a new pair of trainers, or if you need to buy a new winter coat and you wait over two years, those things need replacing."

He added: "I can understand why people would choose to earn some money, cash in hand to achieve that."

Image caption,
Mark Seymour helped support Mr Dawood through his role at The Sanctuary

Some asylum seekers helped by the project wait years before they receive a decision on whether they can remain in the UK.

The Home Office aims to give a decision on straightforward cases within six months.

Mr Dawood fled a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Sudan and had already been in the UK for three years before turning to illegal work.

Immigration officers tried to administer first aid at the scene but Mr Dawood suffered a traumatic brain haemorrhage.

More than a year after his death there has been no official explanation of how the Home Office immigration raid was conducted.

Clare Kenney, a volunteer at The Sanctuary said she was "disgusted" at the lack of information and fears other people may die in similar raids if practices are not changed.

"We need to know what happened, to make sure it doesn't happen again," she said.

The IOPC said last year that there was "no indication that anyone serving with immigration enforcement may have breached the standards of professional behaviour".

Image caption,
Zuhaib Ullah said he needs an update on the case

Mr Dawood's friend Zuhaib Ullah, an asylum seeker from Pakistan, said he was distraught at the lack of information about the raid.

"He's one of our best friends and we lost him last year and still we don't know what's going on.

"I'm really upset with the Home Office. This happened to our friend and we need [an] update from them soon," he said.

A spokesperson for the IOPC said it has completed all investigative work and is finalising a report which it hope to share "shortly" with the coroner, Mr Dawood's family and immigration enforcement.

"We have kept relevant parties informed during the investigation including the family solicitor, and have previously met with Mr Dawood's family and shown them relevant CCTV footage of what happened at the Shaftesbury car wash site."

The spokesperson added: "While we have completed the investigation we may not be in a position to publish our findings until the end of a future inquest.

"We have not had any direct approach for information from The Sanctuary about the case, but would be happy to share our findings with them at an appropriate time."

The Home Office said asylum seekers could work in the UK if their claim has been outstanding for at least 12 months through no fault of their own.

"Those permitted to work are restricted to jobs on the shortage occupation list, which is published by the Home Office and based on expert advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee.

"We are listening carefully to the complex arguments around permitting asylum seekers to work, and the home secretary has committed to reviewing the policy to ensure that it safeguards the integrity of both our asylum and immigration systems," a spokesperson said.

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