08/05/2018 17:11 BST | Updated 09/05/2018 15:55 BST

Home Office Has Wrongfully Deported A 'Handful' Of People - But The Immigration Minister Claims She Did Not Know

Department's top civil servant also admits he is 'not an expert on the immigration system'.

Chris J Ratcliffe via Getty Images
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes came under pressure at the home affairs committee.

The Home Office has wrongfully deported a “handful” of people from the United Kingdom in the last six years a senior official revealed on Tuesday - moments after the Immigration Minister said she did not know of any cases.

Appearing before the Commons home affairs committee on Tuesday, Caroline Nokes was asked how many people had been wrongfully deported.

“I don’t think I have had any cases of wrongful deportation brought to my attention, no,” the minister told MPs.

However just minutes later, Hugh Ind, the director of the Home Office’s immigration enforcement section who was sitting next to Nokes, told MPs he knew of a “handful” of wrongful deportations.

Pressed on an exact figure, Ind indicated the total number was around “five”.

Asked why he knew the figure by Nokes, who has been immigration minister since January 8, 2018, did not, he added: “I don’t know.”

Told by Labour MP Stephen Doughty of a case of wrongful deportation, Nokes told him she was now aware “because you have just drawn one to my attention”.

Nokes told MPs she was “conscious” of people being wrongfully detained by the department who were then released.

Dougthy asked Nokes: “Why have you not been briefed, on becoming immigration minister, on the numbers of wrongful deportations and detentions in your department?”

She told him: “I don’t think I can answer that.”

Sir Philip Rutnam, the permanent secretary of the Home Office, the department’s top civil told MPs he was “not an expert on the immigration system” but indicated he was aware of at least one wrongful deportation.

In the combative committee hearing, Rutnam and Ind were accused of giving “slippery” answers in order to avoid scrutiny.

It was Amber Rudd’s recent appearance before the same committee that ultimately led to her downfall as home secretary.

She told the cross-party group of MPs the Home Office did not have deportation targets - only for it to be revealed it did.