THE SNP have called on the Home Secretary to categorically rule out plans for offshore detention centres and a two-tier asylum system after an expert warned against any state replicating the Australian method.

In a letter to Priti Patel, SNP shadow immigration minister Stuart McDonald asked for absolute assurance that her government will never consider following the Australian model.

The move followed hard-hitting evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee from Madeline Gleeson, an academic with expert knowledge of the Australian government’s asylum policy.

Gleeson told MPs “any state which is a signatory to international conventions” or “any state which considers itself to be a democratic society based on respect for common decency” should not be considering the Australian offshore processing model, which cause significant trauma and distress for those staying in them. She added that to describe the impact of them on children as “devastating” would be an understatement.

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McDonald’s letter follows reports in September that Patel asked officials to explore the construction of offshore processing centres – and did not rule out the use of Scottish Islands.

Similarly, in relation to a possible move by the UK Government to strip back the rights of asylum seekers who arrive by boat – creating a two-tier system – Gleeson warned of extensive damage done to people and communities as a result.

The Australian lawyer, who specialises in human rights and refugee law, also pointed out the sky-high cost of such a system. Australia has spent $7.6 billion on such centres.

“It is horrifying any government, particularly that of the UK, is considering replicating the Australian asylum system, which has been criticised so widely. Doing so would breach the UK’s obligations under Human Rights laws and the 1951 Refugee Convention,” said McDonald.

“It speaks volumes that the Tory Government is even considering such an option and reveals their attitude to some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”