Man found dead after petrol bombs thrown at Dover migrant centre

The man's body was found at a nearby petrol station after the 'distressing incident' at the reception centre

The Army bomb disposal unit near the migrant processing centre in Dover, Kent, on Sunday after petrol bombs were thrown. PA
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A man threw petrol bombs attached with fireworks at a new British immigration border force centre in the southern English port of Dover.

The attacker drove up to the centre in a white Seat sports utility vehicle and threw three petrol bombs, one of which did not go off, Reuters reported.

Kent Police later confirmed a man was found dead at a nearby petrol station after an arson attack at a migrant centre in Dover.

“Officers established that two to three incendiary devices had been thrown outside and into the premises by a single suspect who arrived at the scene in a car," police said.

"Two people have reported minor injuries from inside the property.

“The suspect was identified and very quickly located at a nearby petrol station, and confirmed deceased.

“The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit attended the location to ensure there were no further threats. A further device was found and confirmed safe within the suspect’s vehicle.

“The site remained open. However around 700 suspected migrants were relocated to Manston to ensure safety during the initial phase of the police investigation.”

“We are aware of an incident at Western Jet Foil, Dover, and police are in attendance,” a Home Office representative said.

“It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

Natalie Elphicke, the Conservative MP for Dover, said she was “deeply shocked”.

“I understand that the Dover immigration centre that is at the Port of Dover was firebombed with a number of devices, before an individual then committed suicide,” Ms Elphicke told LBC Radio.

She said the motivation for the attack was so far unknown, but the centre was “a well-known facility” where small boats arrive before people were taken to the Manston asylum processing centre in Kent.

“It’s an absolutely dreadful situation that we have now at Dover,” Ms Elphicke said.

“I understand that all the people who are at the centre are being looked after and precautions are being made for their safety.

“I think it is fair to say that tensions have been running high over the last period.

“And indeed, I’d raised my concerns about that with the immigration minister earlier this week.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman tweeted: “There was a distressing incident in Dover earlier today. I am receiving regular updates on the situation.

“My thoughts are with those affected, the tireless Home Office staff and police responding. We must now support those officers as they carry out their investigation.”

Dover is the focal point of British processing of asylum seekers as the country tries to curb the number of people trying to sail the dangerous English Channel route.

Another 990 migrants arrived in the UK on Saturday after crossing the Channel, government figures show. They then waited in long queues to be processed at the Border Force compound in Dover.

Nearly 40,000 have arrived in the UK so far this year after attempting the treacherous trip from France, crossing one of the world's busiest shipping lanes in dinghies and other small boats.

Saturday's was the highest number of arrivals in one day for weeks, with more crossings taking place on Sunday morning.

The highest number in a single day was set on August 22 when 1,295 people arrived in the country.

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Conditions at the Manston migrant processing centre in Kent left the UK’s immigration watchdog “speechless”.

Chief inspector of borders and immigration David Neal told MPs last week that Manston was originally meant to hold between 1,000 and 1,600 people, but there were 2,800 at the site when he visited last Monday, with more arriving.

The revelations prompted the Refugee Council to call for “urgent” action and request a meeting with ministers to discuss proposals for tackling the problems.

Migrants are meant to stay at the short-term holding facility, which opened in January, for 24 hours while they undergo checks before being moved into immigration detention centres or asylum accommodation — currently hotels.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick visited the Manston processing centre in Kent on Sunday amid growing concerns about its poor conditions.

“Today I visited Manston to thank Home Office teams who continue to process migrants securely in challenging conditions," Mr Jenrick tweeted on Sunday.

He said the number of migrants who crossed the Channel on Saturday “creates immense pressure”.

“I was hugely impressed by the staff I met, managing this intolerable situation,” Mr Jenrick said.

The Sunday Times reported that Ms Braverman has been accused of failing to act on legal advice received at least three weeks ago, which warned migrants were being detained for unlawfully long periods.

“The Home Secretary has taken urgent decisions to alleviate issues at Manston and source alternative accommodation," a Home Office representative said.

"Claims advice was deliberately ignored are completely baseless.

“It is right we look at all available options so decisions can be made based on the latest operational and legal advice.

“The number of people arriving in the UK via small boats has reached record levels, which has put our asylum system under incredible pressure and costs the British taxpayer millions of pounds a day.”

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the situation at Manston was “deeply concerning”, but he denied the home secretary ignored or dismissed legal advice.

“The situation in Manston is not what it should be,” Mr Gove said. “Everyone acknowledges that. We have more than 2,000 people there at the moment.”

Under new plans being considered by Ms Braverman, migrants are to be placed in hotels with other members of the public.

Officials at the Home Office are drawing up proposals to book rooms in hotels, rather than taking over whole properties, to tackle overcrowding at Manston.

The plans were revealed as Ms Braverman faces new questions about her reappointment after her resignation for breaching the ministerial code.

Updated: October 31, 2022, 5:48 AM