250 criminals escape deportation

The Home Office allowed 250 foreign criminals who should have been deported at the end of their prison sentences to stay in Britain without their cases being considered by a court, it has been reported.

At least one terrorist, up to eight killers and rapists, 20 robbers and eight paedophiles were given permission to stay last year without a judge deciding their fate, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

Instead, the Home Office accepted that deporting them would be a breach or their human rights, the newspaper reported.

Freedom of Information Act requests it made also revealed a dramatic increase in such cases - from 56 in 2008, 80 the following year, 217 in 2010 and 250 last year.

Home Secretary Theresa May last year announced a crackdown on use of the "right to a family life" defence to avoid deportation.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "There is no point in wasting taxpayers' money contesting cases where we were advised we would lose. We examined each claim individually but case law based on the old rules meant the courts were highly likely to uphold them.

"That's why we changed the rules last month to help us remove criminals who try to use Article 8 to dodge deportation.

"As a result, we believe we will see fewer cases where the Government is likely to lose and therefore fewer uncontested hearings."

Chris Bryant, the Labour shadow immigration minister, told The Sunday Telegraph: "Theresa May has been trying to blame the Human Rights Act for not being able to deport foreign national offenders, but it's becoming clearer every day that the real problem is her inability to get a grip of her department."