WE at The National are used to delays responses to our inquiries of the UK Home Office, but now the Information Commissioner has told them to respond to our request for an internal review into a refusal to answer a freedom of information (FOI) request.

We asked on March 1, how many asylum seekers had been removed from the UK under instructions that were issued through “human error” and the outcomes of such cases. It followed our disclosure that a removal order had been issued – which the Home Office initially denied – for Isabella Katjiparatijivi, an asylum seeker from Namibia, who had been wrongfully held at Dungavel. Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes later told Katjiparatijivi’s MP Chris Stephens the deportation notice was a “human error”, adding: “In light of this error, an internal review has been commissioned and revised guidance and training is being provided to all officers who authorise the serving of removal directions.”

However, the Home Office refused our FOI request, claiming it would exceed the cost limit of £600, because its systems “cannot identify cases where there has been alleged ‘human error’”.

We thought that was nonsense, given that it would take seconds to find “human error” in a database and, on April 1, we sought an internal review of the refusal. There was no acknowledgement and we contacted the Information Commissioner.

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A case worker has now written to the Home Office, setting a 10-day limit for a response.

They wrote: “Internal reviews are referred to in the section 45 Code of Practice, and significant or repeated unreasonable delays in dealing with internal reviews will be monitored by the Enforcement team. In some instances regulatory action may be necessary.

“If it is the case that you have not issued an internal review decision to Mr Russell we recommend that you do so within 10 working days from the date of receipt of this letter.”