Tory Mark Harper says Iraqi Esam Amin has no right to stay in BritainHighly charged confrontation organised by BBC television producers
Mr Amin has lost legal bids for asylum in the UK five times since 2008Mr Harper said claims were ‘ridiculous’ and he ‘should leave’ the country
Furious immigration minister Mark Harper personally told a failed asylum seeker to go home – on live television.
The senior Tory told Iraqi Esam Amin that his claims to stay in Britain were ‘ridiculous’ and he ‘should leave’ the country.
During the highly charged confrontation on the BBC, Mr Harper said neither the government nor the courts believed Mr Amin’s claims and the British taxpayer should not support him.
Mr Harper, who has taken an increasingly tough line on illegal immigration, signed off the controversial ‘Go Home’ ad vans which toured London this summer.
He came face to face with Mr Asim on BBC1’s Sunday Politics West, making clear that the Iraqi had no right to stay in Britain.
Mr Amin’s claims to asylum have been rejected five times in the past six years.
The minister said it was now time to leave the country.
During a 10-minute row, Mr Harper told him: ‘We are very clear Mr Amin has had the chance to claim asylum, his case has been looked at very carefully by the government, we didn’t find it credible.
THE KURDISH CHEF WHO KEEPS REFUSING TO GO BACK TO IRAQ
Esam Amin has been seeking asylum in the UK since 2008.
The 32-year-old volunteer chef from East Bristol boasts of campaigning to highlight the 'destitution some asylum seekers face' in the city.
But five times the British courts have rejected his claim that his life would be at risk if he returned to his native Iraq.
He left Iraq in 2007 and arrived in Britain later that year.
Writing on the Asylum Seekers in Bristol website online, he said: 'I know my story is true, but his system didn't believe me and it has made me destitute.
'I can’t return to my country because it is too risky for me.'
He asked Immigration Minister Mark Harper to 'imagine having £5 a day for food and everything, as this is the support he gives asylum seekers and I don’t even get that at the moment'.
'I am lucky that I have friends helping me. Others are not so lucky, they are living outside or in bus shelters,' he said.
The Kurdish asylum seeker has previously claimed the UK asylum system is 'like a torture' and organised street protests against it.
Working as a chef for the Welcome House run by the Bristol Hospitality Network, Mr Amin has been praised for cooking 'many wonderful meals - many of which involve surprisingly tasty fish heads'.
‘We have a fair system where he is able to go through a legal process and the judge didn’t find his claim credible, in fact he said parts of his claim were “not credible and ridiculous”.
‘I’m afraid he has no right to be in the United Kingdom and he should leave.’
Mr Amin claimed his life would be in danger if he was sent back to Iraq.
But he admitted he has failed in his bid to claim asylum in Bristol five times since 2008.
He told the programme: ‘I am not an illegal person, I am an asylum seeker, I am a human being like you.
‘My life in my country is in danger that’s why I decided, and I left my family and everything, to come here. I claimed asylum, I came to find a safe place.
‘I know my story is true and your system doesn’t believe me.
‘Five times they didn’t believe me which has been going on for nearly six years. I can’t return to my home because my life is in danger there. I am campaigning so I can get my right to a safe place.’
He claimed that he had only £5 to live on after his claim was rejected.
But Mr Harper said the British taxpayer should not have to pick up the tab for someone who has no right to be here.
The minister added: ‘With the greatest respect when you were here claiming asylum taxpayers supported you, you now have no right to be in the United Kingdom and you should return.
‘We don’t believe you and neither did the judge.’
He went on: ‘Hardworking families will be sat there finding it incredible that someone has had the chance to go through a system, have had a decision, have appealed it to a judge and they have been found not to have the need for our protection.
‘They would think it is incredible that the taxpayer should continue supporting them to stay in this country and they have no right to be here.
‘It doesn’t give everyone in the world the right to come to the United Kingdom.'
Ministers have grown increasingly frustrated with repeated legal challenges from people seeking to live in the UK.
Mr Harper warned the costs and ongoing court battles risked undermining public support for the entire immigration system.
He told the BBC: 'We protect people and we are very generous at protecting people genuinely fleeing persecution, and I think if people abuse our system.
'It will damage the British public’s tolerance for people genuinely fleeing persecution.’
Mr Harper has previously argued that the controversial ‘Go home, or face arrest’ poster campaign was not ‘racist’ and is pushing for it to be extended across the country.
He launched a strong attack on critics of the Home Office billboards, claiming they are encouraging those who are in the country illegally to go on breaking the law.
‘No society that encourages people to break its laws can survive,’ Mr Harper said.
‘That, however, is precisely what our critics are asking us to do. They say we should not try to persuade illegal immigrants to leave.’
The Home Office has been told by the Advertising Standards Authority to stop using the vehicles because claims about the number of arrests were 'misleading'.
The ASA said the 'go home' slogan was 'distasteful' but cleared it over complaints that it was offensive and irresponsible.
The Home Office sent the vans displaying billboards warning overstaying migrants ‘Go home, or you'll be picked up and deported’ to tour six London boroughs in July.
Tory ministers including Mr Harper made clear their desire to send the vans across the country but the Lib Dems dismissed them as 'silly' and refused to back their future use.
Labour accused the Tories of using the ‘language of the National Front’.
The Advertising Standards Authority received 224 complaints against the Home Office campaign earlier this year.
Groups representing migrants in the UK, legal academics and Labour peer Lord Lipsey were among those who complained to the ASA.