UK
10/10/2013 10:54 BST | Updated 10/10/2013 11:10 BST

Go Home Vans Made One Person Leave The Country, Home Office Reveals

The government has revealed that one illegal immigrant has left the country as a result of its "Go Home" van campaign.

Immigration minister Mark Harper could only produce one example for MPs, of a Pakistani man who had texted the Home Office after spotting an article about the controversial vans in The Guardian.

He was speaking during a Parliamentary debate in which the vans were branded "stupid and grotesque" by a Scottish Nationalist MP.

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The campaign, which sparked an outcry from anti-racism campaigners and was branded "stupid and offensive" by Vince Cable, involved poster-clad vans driving through six London boroughs between July 22 and July 28, stating: "In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest."

During the Westminster Hall debate, Pete Wishart said: "Just to make it even more provocative, this van was trailed through some of the most racially diverse and multicultural parts of London.

go home van

The vans were driven around London

He said the £10,000 cost of the exercise "could have been better spent than on that absurd campaign with a hate van,

trailing through the streets of London with a message saying, 'Go home'."

SEE ALSO: Go Home vans banned by the Advertising watchdog

Wishart accused ministers of believing the "Daily Mail version" of illegal immigrant life, "in which they are living the life of Riley, at our expense, laughing behind our backs, which sometimes I think that the Minister believes. It is a life of desperate destitution and fear."

Responding, Harper said: "Frankly, if people are here illegally, they should go back to their country of origin. There is nothing wrong with suggesting that they do so."

The Home Office has failed to respond to requests from HuffPost UK under the Freedom of Information Act about the vans.

But Harper gave the first indicator of how they had worked when he said the first voluntary departure had taken place on August 2 who spotted the picture in The Guardian.

He told MPs: "He texted the number and we arranged to support him for his flight home, so at least one individual has left the country as a result of the pilot."