Man charged over violence outside UK asylum seeker hotel

Police arrested 15 people after the incident at what started as a peaceful protest

A police van outside the closed gates of the Suites Hotel in Knowsley, near Liverpool, on February 11. AFP
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A man, 19, was charged on Sunday with violent disorder and assault in connection with a protest outside a hotel housing asylum seekers in Knowsley, near Liverpool in England.

A peaceful protest outside the Suites Hotel turned violent on Friday when some demonstrators threw projectiles including lit fireworks at police and attacked a police van with hammers before setting it aflame.

Police arrested Jarad Skeete, 19, and 14 others.

Mr Skeete, who was accused of violent disorder and assaulting an emergency services worker, was remanded in custody and due to appear in court Monday.

Police said the incident slightly injured an officer and two members of the public.

Labour's Lisa Nandy criticised the government for creating a “toxic” mix of anti-migrant rhetoric and poor accommodation provisions for asylum seekers awaiting decisions on their applications.

“When you lay on to that a government that talks about things like an ‘invasion’ in relation to immigration, you have a perfect storm, a really toxic mix that is being created,” Ms Nandy told the BBC.

Migrants at immigration processing centre in Manston - in pictures

Development minister Andrew Mitchell said the Conservative government condemned the violence and was trying hard to “stop the excessive use of hotels” to house migrants.

Britain takes in fewer asylum-seekers than some of its European neighbours, including France and Germany, but has seen a sharp increase in the number of people trying to reach the UK by crossing the English Channel in small boats.

More than 45,000 people reached Britain by that route in 2022. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said stopping the small boat crossings is one of his top priorities.

Migrant children rescued in French waters - in pictures

Scores of migrants have had to wait for months or longer for a decision on their asylum claims, with many stuck in hotels or other unsuitable temporary accommodation.

Meanwhile, a government minister said on Sunday that plans to send migrants to Rwanda will have only a “marginal” benefit.

The scheme has been mired in legal challenges, and so far there have been no migrant flights to the African nation.

Mr Mitchell said the scheme was not the “whole answer”.

Inside a refugee camp in Rwanda - video

He rejected the idea that the UK could withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights over plans to tackle the problem of small boats carrying migrants across the Channel.

Mr Mitchell, who was critical of the Rwanda scheme as a backbencher, told Channel 4 that if it was to have “any” benefit, it would not be the “whole of the effort we have to make”.

“It will be a marginal benefit. What we have to do is to stop these boats and there are a series of other mechanisms which we could use to do that,” he said.

The scheme was “worth exploring”, but “it is definitely not the whole answer”.

UK's first Rwanda deportation flight cancelled - video

Despite speculation in Westminster, Mr Mitchell said the idea of leaving the ECHR was not being seriously considered.

An intervention by the European Court of Human Rights, which rules on ECHR cases, effectively grounded the first scheduled flight under the Rwanda partnership deal last year.

Some in the Tory Party, including Home Secretary Suella Braverman, have spoken in favour of leaving the ECHR to help make it easier to send migrants overseas.

“The proposal that we should leave the ECHR is not one that the government has considered and is, in my view, unlikely to consider," said Mr Mitchell.

Updated: February 12, 2023, 10:41 PM