UK & World News
Immigration: Complaints Over 'Go Home' Texts
More than 140 people have complained after receiving text messages accusing them of being illegal immigrants and asking them to leave Britain.
Among those contacted by the Government was Suresh Grover, a veteran civil rights campaigner who has lived in the UK since 1966.
He reacted angrily to the text which stated: "Message from the Home Office. Our records show that you may not have leave to remain in the UK. Please contact us on 0844 3754636."
Nearly 40,000 similar text messages have been sent by outsourcing company Capita on behalf of the Home Office. Some of the recipients were British citizens.
Mr Grover, who founded anti-racism charity The Monitoring Group, told The Independent: "I was absolutely shocked and quite horrified to receive the text.
"I thought it wasn't meant for me. I came here with my parents in 1966, I was born in East Africa and have always had a British passport."
He said he rang the number and got through to Capita, who told him he was indeed the right recipient of the text.
"She was asking for more personal information about me and was not telling me where she got my number," he said.
"I'm not going to be giving them information I don't think they deserve. I think it's outrageous sending people random texts without knowing who they are sending them to...It's horrific."
A message was also sent to immigration lawyer Bobby Chan, who has given evidence as an expert witness to the Home Affairs select committee.
This time the text stated: "Message from the UK Border Agency. You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have right to remain."
Mr Grover submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office which revealed that 39,100 individuals have been contacted in this way by text.
A Home Office spokesman told Sky News: "We are taking proactive steps to contact individuals who records show have no valid right to be in the UK, some of which date back to December 2008. We believe it is right to enforce the immigration rules.
"Out of thousands of people contacted by Capita, a small number have been found to have the right to be in the UK or an outstanding application. Anyone contacted in error has been asked to get in touch with Capita to update their records."
Sources at the Home Office said Capita contacted 58,800 suspected illegal immigrants by text, email, letter and phone between December 2012 and June 2013.
There were 143 complaints, and of those only 14 were contacted in error, they said.
When contacted by Sky, a Capita spokesman described the number of complaints as "negligible".
David Hanson, Labour's Shadow Immigration Minister, slammed the text message scheme as "shambolic and incompetent".
He said: "These messages will rightly cause distress and offence to British citizens, many of whom have done much to contribute to our society. It is simply wrong for this sort of message to be sent by text, and to be so poorly targeted.
"Yet again, like the offensive and inappropriate ad vans, the Government will be using taxpayers' hard-earned money to offend and alienate its own citizens."
On Thursday, Immigration Minister Mark Harper told the BBC that vans telling illegal immigrants in London to "go home or face arrest" could be rolled out across the rest of the country.