UK Home Secretary sacked after deportation review blunder

[JURIST] UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [BBC profile] was dropped from Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet in a major cabinet shuffle [PM materials; BBC backgrounder] Friday and was replaced [press release] by John Reid [official profile], who formerly served as Defence Secretary. The shuffle, which also saw UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw replaced by Margaret Beckett [official profile], followed poor local election results for the Labour Party and a series of scandals that have plagued the government in recent weeks. Clarke came under fire in April after he admitted to a "shocking administrative blunder" that resulted in the release of 1023 foreign criminals [JURIST report] in the past seven years who were to have undergone deportation inquiries. Clarke had hoped to stay on to resolve the issue, but Blair said Friday that "it was very difficult, given the level of genuine public concern, for Charles to continue in this post."

In a statement [text] Friday, Clarke said:

As I've sought to make the necessary changes to what are very deep-seated and long-standing problems, I have uncovered areas where still more and faster change is needed.

One such issue is how to deal with foreign national prisoners - for which I have taken overall responsibility and on which I have staked my reputation.

The prime minister, as is his right and responsibility, has made the judgement that my continued occupation of the post of home secretary is likely to stand in the way of the continued reforms which remain necessary and though I do not agree with that judgement, I entirely accept his right to make it.

However, I do not think it would be appropriate to remain in government in these circumstances and return to the backbenches, where I will be a strong and active supporter of this government and the leadership of Tony Blair for his full parliamentary term.
UK rights group Liberty [advocacy website] welcomed the decision [press release] to sack Clarke, saying "Mr Clarke may feel harshly judged today but for his anti free speech and ID card laws and for instituting punishment without trial, our children may judge him even more harshly tomorrow." BBC News has more.


 

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