14-year-old boy among four asylum seekers in hotel riot case

A 14-year-old boy is among four people charged with rioting at an asylum seeker hotel in Merseyside.

A police van was set on fire as missiles were thrown at police officers outside the Suites Hotel in Knowsley on 10 February, after a protest erupted in violence.

Paul Lafferty, 42, from Northwood, John Tipler, 59, from Northwood, Christopher Shelley, 44, from Southden and a 14-year-old boy from Kirkby have been charged with violent disorder and will appear in court next month.

The disorder followed years of increased protest activity targeting hotels, which have increasingly been used by the Home Office for asylum seekers due to a lack of proper accommodation.

Counter-extremism group Hope Not Hate recorded 253 hotel “visits” by anti-migrant activists and far-right groups in 2022, more than double the figure seen in 2021.

A report published in March said videos widely shared on social media “compared housing provided to ‘foreigners’ with the situation of homeless British people, particularly military veterans, or with a cost of living crisis”. Let’s try to create outrage by talking about it”.

Union officials representing workers in hotels and reception centers for asylum seekers crossing the English Channel accused ministers on Wednesday of increasing the risk to both residents and staff with “racist policies and rhetoric”.

Senior members of the Public and Commercial Service union (PCS), which represents more than 16,000 Home Office staff, told their annual conference in Brighton that they had issued a formal warning to the department’s permanent secretary.

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Suella Braverman claimed England has been “invaded” by migrants crossing the Channel the day after the far-right terrorist attack targeting the Dover reception facility (House of Commons/PA)

(PA Wire)

PCS head of bargaining Paul O’Connor told Independent The letters had asked the Home Office “what they intend to do to protect our members”.

“The problem is that you have a Home Secretary who is encouraging this type of behavior with dog-whistling politics,” he said, pointing to statements by Suella Braverman where she called Channel crossings an “invasion”. Said and added that she “understands people’s frustration with hotels being occupied by large numbers of illegal immigrants”.

Mr O’Connor said: “It is a disgrace because it not only puts refugees at risk, it puts our members at risk too.”

He said that a terrorist bombing targeting a Dover reception center in October “indicates how dangerous the rhetoric is”, warning: “It promotes a far-right mindset.”

A fringe event held at the conference saw panelists express concerns about the Illegal Migration Bill, which aims to detain and deport small boat migrants, and far-right activism.

Bombing of immigration processing center in Dover declared a terrorist incident

PCS general secretary Mark Sarvotka called Ms Braverman’s statements “extraordinary”, adding: “We have seen the normalization of politicians using language that is encouraging other people to follow suit.

“We are seeing a normalization of policies that are so bigoted and dehumanizing, that it encourages people to think that this is now acceptable.

“It’s directly linked to why more and more people feel comfortable standing outside hotels, being racist, and thinking they can get away with it.”

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Research released on Monday by Hope Not Hate found that hostile social media messages discussing migration, asylum seekers and small boats “spike” following government statements on the issue.

One report said that after the Home Secretary announced the asylum campaign in October, there was a 35 per cent increase in anti-migrant social media messages and a 52 per cent increase in the use of the word “invasion” on Telegram after Ms Braverman. Used it in Parliament.

Patrick Hermansson, senior researcher at Hope Not Hate, said: “This research is solid evidence that the government is not taking the far-right threat seriously, but is actively feeding it through its rhetoric.”

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.


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