Photo of Clare Sambrook

THE SCOTSMAN DAVID MOIR

Clare Sambrook is a novelist, freelance journalist and a founder of the citizens’ campaign 
End Child Detention Now. The campaign's press page is here.

Clare is a coeditor of OurKingdom, the UK section of openDemocracy where she runs the Shine A Light project.

In 2010 she won both the Paul Foot Award and the Bevins Prize for outstanding investigative journalism. In 2013 she was nominated for the Orwell Prize.

Presenting Clare with the Bevins Prize for disclosures about the government’s policy of locking up asylum-seeking families, journalist Andrew Marr said Clare had ‘thrust her campaign as hard as she could up the nether regions of those in power.’

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, handing over the Foot Award, said Clare had exposed ‘the cosy relationship between Government, civil servants and private companies running detention centres for profit.’

Contact Clare.

 

 

From the archive

Missing

How three disappearances grew into Hide & Seek

13 june 2005, big issue

The Prince and I

Letting the riffraff into Cambridge

23 october 2004, guardian

Sex, drugs and knee replacements

The stench that hangs on the Olympics

27 july 2000, guardian

Betting our lives

Labour’s love affair with the gambling industry

3 june 1999, guardian

How to lose money and influence people

The lottery regulator’s catastrophic career

24 february 1997, guardian

 

 

Image of Hide & Seek paperback cover Photo of tube advert for Hide & Seek

‘My God, it is beautifully done, probably the best book of its kind since . . . The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’

— The Observer

 

‘A brilliantly written account of what happens to a family after a child goes missing . . . heartbreaking and funny . . . In a word: wonderful.’

Herald Sun, Australia

 

‘A compelling, oddly enjoyable, emotionally raw debut.’

— San Francisco Chronicle

 

‘The thrill and chaos and casual brutality of childhood are gorgeously accurate. . . Touching, sad and very funny.’

— Independent

 

‘Taut, suspenseful . . . a nuanced take on a nightmare.’

— Publishers Weekly

 

One of the most convincing portraits of a childhood I have ever read.'

— Suzie Doore, Waterstone’s

 

'This book will be compared to The Lovely Bones. It is better than that.'

— Kes Neilsen, Amazon

 

'Really, really good, one of those books that slowly grips your heart . . .
A truly evocative and affecting novel.'

— Marcus Greville, Waterstone’s

 

'Evocative and haunting.'

— Julian King, Alpha Retail

 

'As tragic a tale of loss, anguish, but also resilience as you’re likely to read this year.'

— Ged Convey, Borders/Books Etc

 

'An emotional rollercoaster...compulsive, intriguing and unusual.'

— 
Juliet Swann, Ottakar’s

 

‘A brilliantly written account of what happens to a family after a child goes missing . . . heartbreaking and funny . . . In a word: wonderful.’

— Herald Sun, Australia

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Martin Rowson

Thanks to Martin Rowson (click image to enlarge).

Nice work: G4S wins $118 million Guantánamo contract

G4S, the UK government outsourcer that supports Israeli security services on the West Bank, will serve Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.

Gove's own Operation Trojan Horse: the privatisation of our schools

Yesterday education minister Michael Gove was demoted to the post of chief whip. His covert privatisation of schools across England goes on.

Love is not all you need, says Court of Appeal: can you afford to love a migrant?

Harsh UK immigration rules deprive couples of their right to family life unless they earn at least £18,600 per year — more if they have children. And that's all right, says the Court of Appeal.

One Man, Two Guvnors: the conflict at the heart of British justice

Yesterday Chris Grayling, who is both Minister of State for Justice (dismantling the legal aid system) and Lord Chancellor (sworn to uphold the rule of law), gave evidence before the House of Commons Justice Committee.

Coroner: prisoner got ‘sub-optimal care’ at G4S Oakwood Prison

• For almost an hour after Steve Ham was found unresponsive, G4S guards failed to call an ambulance

• Panic, inexperience, understaffing and lack of transparency exposed at UK's flagship private prison

• “An excellent model for the future of the Prison Service,” said justice minister Chris Grayling when Oakwood opened

Can you afford to fall in love with a migrant?

How the UK's immigration rules deprive couples of their right to family life.

One life in investigative journalism

Clare interviewed by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, writer-in-residence at Lacuna.

Man loses job. What next? (He's G4S's Nick Buckles, by the way)

What happens after a government outsourcer fails shareholders and the public, and the boss loses his job? Nick Buckles gets £1,200,000 — and a pension of more than £400,000 a year.

Fail and prosper: how privatisation really works

Want to make £10 million and more? Become an accountant. Learn how to make austerity pay.

Is the Death of a Detainee a story? It depends where they’re from

The horrible death of Canadian Alois Dvorzac in UK immigration detention was big news. What if he'd been from Eritrea or Zaire?

Man, 84, dies handcuffed in hospital: UK border control by the GEO Group

A shocking report on Harmondsworth, the British immigration lock-up run by GEO, America's second biggest prisons contractor. Who are the GEO Group and what do they stand for?

Corruption? Delusion? Britain's botched privatisation of asylum housing

UK spending watchdog confirms mismanagement in outsourcing to G4S and Serco. Report casts doubt on public servants' ability to scrutinise powerful contractors..

G4S guard bludgeoned woman to death

That's G4S, experts in "robust employee screening". A murder conviction in Glasgow raises fresh doubts about a government outsourcer's competence and integrity.

The truth about sexual abuse at Yarl's Wood detention centre

What is the British government really doing to protect immigration detainees from their guards?

Jimmy Mubenga and the shame of British Airways

Three years after the unlawful killing of a passenger in its care, why hasn't British Airways held an inquiry into what went wrong? What are the consequences of its inaction?

G4S: A tale of two troubled prisons

Privatisation's flagship African jail is beset by kidnap, rape and stabbings. In Oakwood Prison, England, hooch, drugs and violence thrive. What's the problem? For-profit prisons? Or G4S?

UK government deports sexual assault witnesses

Witnesses to alleged sexual abuse at Yarl's Wood detention centre are being put on a mass deportation flight to Pakistan, leaving tonight.

Strip-searched in Derbyshire

Police officers across England are strip-searching people for no good reason.

It's all right for Michael Gove

The UK education minister blames food bank clients for their poverty. The man himself takes, time and time again.

JULY: Court rejects UK gov attempt to send transplant patient to her death — AUGUST: 'Free at last'

JULY: Rejoicing in Yorkshire as Home Secretary is denied her wish to deport Roseline Akhalu to Nigeria. AUGUST: Akhalu granted leave to remain.

G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted

What to do with a 100 kg guard who fatally restrains a 40 kg boy? Promote him to health & safety manager, G4S children's homes. Behind the corporate image at G4S Children's Services, responsible for some of Britain's most vulnerable children.

G4S conceals identity in children's homes planning applications

The world's biggest security company hides its identity in applications to convert houses into children's homes in England.

Lord Ramsbotham attacks 'perverse' decision not to prosecute G4S over Mubenga death

JULY 2013: Crown Prosecution Service reconsiders decision not to prosecute G4S.

JULY 2012: Ramsbotham, former chief inspector of prisons, condemns original CPS decision not to prosecute. Peers describe UK Border Agency culture of disbelief, its abuse of torture victims, denial of legal representation, dawn raids on pregnant mothers, the perils of outsourcing, ‘loutish and aggressive’ behaviour, and that’s not all . . .

Who is that man in the Lord Chancellor's seat?

• Justice minister making savage cuts lined his pockets from Parliamentary expenses

• MPs grill Chris Grayling over plans to destroy Legal Aid

• Grayling acknowledges 'ideological' motivation.

MPs on Justice by Tesco, Stobart & G4S

A debate the government did not want to happen. House of Commons resists Coalition attack on Legal Aid.
Read on

Broken bones and stab wounds: rising violence at G4S-run Birmingham jail

Steep rise in attacks on staff and prisoners at run-for-profit Winson Green prison.

Eddie Izzard, Bill Gates, little orphans — and why charity may yet imperil G4S

As the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation increases its stake in G4S, Dutch charities recoil from the world's leading security company. (joint byline with Adri Nieuwhof)

G4S and their human rights problem

Protesters disrupt security company's annual meeting. A jury questions the death of a detainee. Spooks and Big Money mingle with ministers at Bilderberg. Scenes from a Le Carré novel? A difficult day for security giant G4S . . .

Olympic bunglers G4S recruit for Hillsborough inquiry

Outsourcing giant G4S seeks retired police officers to investigate Britain's worst football disaster — for £14 an hour.

Woolwich: Lord Reid, the security industry's salesman

Former Home Secretary John Reid exploits a brutal murder to revive the Snoopers' Charter.

Outsourcer Nick Buckles retires at 52, a multimillionaire

Security company G4S and its executives have got rich dismantling public services.

Champagne for Serco shareholders, 23 hour lock-ins for Serco prisoners

Serco shareholders gather in the City of London today to celebrate financial success. Just across the river, Britain's newest private prison HMP Thameside, run by Serco, is failing.

Another G4S scandal: UK's privatised asylum housing market is falling apart

The sensitive work of housing vulnerable asylum seekers appears to be defeating the world’s biggest security company. A leaked letter from G4S director (a former Rentokil executive) illuminates the unfolding crisis.

A few days left to prevent UK transplant patient’s perilous removal to Nigeria

Public support ahead of 21 November appeal hearing may be Roseline Akhalu’s last hope.

For recent news on this case, please visit OurKingdom and type Roseline Akhalu into the search engine.

Corrupt and ‘reckless’ Kellogg Brown & Root still in the running for UK police contracts

Ahead of Police & Crime Commissioner elections in the UK, a negligence verdict in Oregon intensifies pressure to keep tainted contractor KBR out of UK policing.

Conflicting accounts of death at a London immigration lock-up

Inmates at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre claim employee of commercial contractor GEO beat immigration detainee and left him naked in an unheated room. Police say there are no suspicious circumstances.

Beyond the G4S Olympic fiasco: what now for the world's largest security company and its critics?

The Olympic debacle was just one in a history of serious cases of negligence.

Lord Ramsbotham, former chief inspector of prisons, attacks 'perverse' decision not to prosecute G4S over Mubenga death

A terrible day for the UK Border Agency, as Peers describe its culture of disbelief, its abuse of torture victims, the denial of legal representation, dawn raids on pregnant mothers, the perils of outsourcing, ‘loutish and aggressive’ behaviour, deaths by G4S, and that’s not all . . .

G4S Olympic fiasco: British soldiers are the ‘people pipeline’ now

Multimillionaire government ministers, close to G4S chief executive Nick Buckles, are a world away from weary soldiers drafted in to rescue the Olympics.

The UK Border Agency's long, punitive campaign against children (helped by G4S and Serco)

Clare Sambrook’s exposé of the Border Agency’s abuse of children and its relentless misrepresentation of evidence of harm.

Citizens fighting £1.5 billion police privatisation highlight security companies’ human rights violations

As G4S and Serco, both accused of human rights abuses, bid for a contract tendered by two English police authorities, protestors rally to pressure the West Midlands Police Authority to reject the bids on grounds of 'grave misconduct'.

G4S teaches UK Border Agency how to care for children

It’s no joke — the world’s biggest security company is training immigration staff in “Keeping Children Safe”.

• G4S "invited" to deliver training without competition.

• UK Border Agency executives "delighted" and "couldn't have been more complimentary".

• G4S has record of harming children and adults in its care.

Controversial doctor and Barnardo’s serve UK’s flawed child detention policy

Cracks show in ‘compassionate approach’ to locking up children for the sake of administrative convenience.

How many children secretly deported under UK Border Agency’s Gentleman’s Agreement?

When heartless illegality is official Government policy.

Like it or not, G4S is securing your world

Clare Sambrook’s award-winning reporting and analysis on G4S has been followed by, among others, the BBC, The Times, The Guardian and The New York Times. OurKingdom launches the G4S collection.

UK policymaking outsourced: the curious case of adoption reform

Breathtaking collusion between ministers, special advisers and Rupert Murdoch’s lieutenants is being dragged into the light by the Leveson inquiry. Where else is policy being created by cabal?

Is the UK Government fattening up defence logistics for the private sector?

Is the Government neglecting to scrutinise what Ministry of Defence officials are doing? Or is lack of scrutiny a deliberate and necessary part of the privatisation process?

Corporate Power stamps its brand on British Policing

The end of the British Bobby? Is policing by corporate power replacing policing by consent? G4S, the world's largest security company, takes over Lincolnshire Police.

Photo of a G4S logo on a Lincolnshire Police item of security clothing

Who should investigate murder — the police, or a private security company?

Security company G4S recruits "outstanding investigative officers" to run murder investigations in the UK for £25,000-a-year.

Lord West of Primetake

“When I was a minister in the Home Office I was shocked at how little co-ordination there was across police forces in terms of procurement,” Lord West of Spithead told Peers. Conveniently, he is a strategic adviser to Primetake, supplier to the UK armed forces, police and prison service!

How official lying harms our democracy

A submission to the House of Lords Communications Committee inquiry into the future of investigative journalism.

Invited to appear before the House of Lords Communications Committee on 11 October 2011, Clare exposed examples of ministerial lies, government’s burial of medical evidence and the routine fabrication upon which the child detention policy is based. Clare’s written submission records systematic official mendacity and calls for a restoration of respect for information and harsher sanctions against Parliamentarians and civil servants who mislead the public. “The role of government and local government press officers should be to serve the public with truth, not to serve ministers by spinning to the public,” Clare writes. “Every press release and public statement issued by officials should be signed off by an official who takes responsibility for the accuracy of the information.”
The Committee’s report, “A secure future for investigative journalism”, 16 February 2012, cites Clare’s evidence and includes this recommendation: “We encourage the Government to lead by example in ensuring its press releases do not mislead.”
See also: Clare’s submission to the Committee as published by openDemocracy (PDF).

All the written evidence to the Lords inquiry (PDF).

Anthony Barnett, “Official lying in the UK: what child detention reveals about how we are governed”, openDemocracy 21 November 2011, and Niki Seth-Smith, “A small victory for transparency: the House of Lords report on investigative journalism”, openDemocracy 16 February 2012.

Respect and suicide prevention at the UK Border Agency

“Staff did not carry anti-ligature knives,” inspectors found on their unannounced visit last October to Waterside Court in Leeds, one of the UK Border Agency’s holding facilities for immigration detainees. What’s more, escort staff at the commercial contractor Reliance Security “had difficulty in locating anti-ligature knives and one van did not have a knife at all”.

Lord Reid of G4S

“The best protection against misuse or fraud on cyber issues is biometric protection,” Lord Reid informed the House of Lords. That’s good for Reid’s paymasters G4S who are big players in . . . biometrics!

The truth about health “reform”: it's the demolition of the NHS

Faith groups and charities must join the medical profession in strong, relentless and effective opposition to the government's wrecking of the NHS.

A child, a bleeding anus, interrogation by the UK Border Agency

Child B is apprehended after landing in Dover. He is subjected to something called a “welfare interview” and asked “Are you in any pain?” Yes, he says. The little finger on his left hand is in a splint. He is bleeding from his anus. His interrogator writes that Child B has been prescribed “Petadine” by doctors in Belgium. The boy is asked if he wants to see a doctor now in Dover. Yes, he says. But he doesn’t see a doctor. That was just a question on the form.

Beyond our Keen

Questions are being asked about the appointment of “independent doctor” John W. Keen to a UK Border Agency advisory panel supposed to “safeguard and promote the welfare of children” facing detention and removal.

Cedars House rules

How Barnardo’s fights for detained children’s interests. Or, rather, doesn’t.

“Duty of care” vs “earnings per share”: private contractors in the UK immigration removals business

“We have always operated to the highest possible standards of safety and welfare for those people in our care,” said G4S, the security giant in whose care Jimmy Mubenga died after “restraint”, Aboriginal elder Mr Ward was slowly cooked to death, and a five-year-old (unlawfully detained) was frisked by a latex-gloved employee saying: “You’re a big boy now, so I have to search you”.

Frisk the 5 year old: the UK Government’s new compassionate approach to child detention

“You’re a big boy now so I have to search you,” said the G4S custody officer to the five-year-old, donning latex gloves and patting him down at a Heathrow Airport detention facility run by outsourcing giant G4S.

The PFI wealth machine

The Private Finance Initiative has recklessly transferred billions from UK taxpayers to private financiers. Now we’re nicely asking for a little bit of our money back.

G4S locks up the captive market

Congratulations to G4S, the gigantic ‘Securing Your World’ security company that has made sales of £4.2 billion to the Minister of Justice alone.

Duty of Care: beyond the case of Mr Ward, cooked to death by outsourcer G4S

The horrible death of a respected Aboriginal elder casts doubt upon often-unchallenged assumptions about the virtues of privatization.

Oranges and Sunshine: Barnardo's must learn from past mistakes

The film 'Oranges and Sunshine' tells of the thousands of British children forced into migration to the Commonwealth in the 1880s. Barnardo's played a part. Today, the children's charity faces accusations of collusion with the government over child detention.

Voices from the military abyss – An introduction to The Skinback Fusiliers

openDemocracy and OurKingdom are proud to serialise The Skinback Fusiliers, a fast, funny and deeply disturbing novel about life in the British army seen through the eyes of three young men.

A child prisoner, a Santa suit and a Border Agency out of ministerial control

In this morning’s Independent Andrew Grice reveals that the UK Border Agency locked up an 11-year-old girl on Christmas Day in defiance of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s promise that no child would be so detained at Christmas.

As recently as 10 January the Home Office falsely claimed that no child had been detained at Christmas. Besides making deputy prime minister Nick Clegg look a deceiver and a Grade A twit, this story betrays UK Border Agency incompetence and contempt for democratic process, proving yet again that it is not fit to be entrusted with children’s care.

The importance of being adversarial

Why are some big organizations so scared of being adversarial? What are their well-paid press officers getting into the media? If the answer is 'not much' or 'tame stuff' then they're failing the public who fund them and failing the vulnerable people whose interests they are supposed to be championing.

Man or mouse? Keith Vaz should demand urgent reform of the UK Border Agency

‘Much of the delay in concluding asylum and other immigration cases stems from poor quality decision-making when the application is initially considered,’ says Keith Vaz, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee whose latest report on the UK Border Agency’s work is published today.

Two cheers for Vaz and the HASC! It might be three if only they were clearer and more forceful in their criticism of an agency whose deficiencies are systemic and rooted in a culture characterised by denial and deceit.

Child detention — mind the gap between rhetoric and reality

‘Today marks a big culture shift within our immigration system,’ said Nick Clegg two weeks ago, announcing plans purporting to end child detention. ‘That practice, the practice we inherited, ends here,’ he said.

Sadly, it didn’t end there.

Mind the gap! Coalition claims and reality for child detention

When Nick Clegg announced two weeks ago, ‘Today marks a big culture shift within our immigration system,’ I was struck by a vivid image of horses struggling to push carts. A big culture shift is exactly what is needed at the Home Office, but there is no sign of its happening any time soon.

Five years of denial. UK Gov’s reckless pursuit of a punitive asylum policy — never mind the evidence of harm

Maybe deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is poised to end for good the scandal of child detention by the immigration authorities in his pre-Christmas statement. Maybe not.

Perhaps they’re making Clegg the bagman for the latest load of Home Office trickery regarding a policy that for years has been characterised by both brutality and deceit. I hope not.

But this is a moment to gather together the shameful evidence of the last five years so that it will not be forgotten.

Children’s final exit from the house of nightmares

One day last year a young woman walked into the police station of her northern town to sign in, as the immigration authorities required her to do fortnightly. It was a Monday. As usual she left her two-year-old son playing with friends. This time she did not return to collect him.

Investigative journalism & End Child Detention Now

Having won the Paul Foot Award and the Bevins Prize for her investigations into child detention, Clare Sambrook talks with Steve Hewlett about the campaign.

Clare wins again! ‘Investigative Comment’ and the future of journalism on the web

Clare Sambrook has just won the Bevins Prize for Investigative Journalism, as well as scooping up the Paul Foot Award last week, both of them for her stories exposing the scandal of child detention in Britain. It is a terrific recognition of her and her team of unpaid fellow campaigners at End Child Detention Now. openDemocracy is proud of being her main publisher, in our UK section OurKingdom. Her reports are listed here.

It is the first time that either award has gone to journalism primarily published on the web. The changing balance between the new and mainstream media, much chattered about, is now becoming real. In the process the nature of journalism is being changed. For the better.

Meet G4S, Government’s untouchable friend

The Guardian’s disturbing revelations about the final fatal journey of Angolan Jimmy Mubenga in the care of Home Office contractor G4S have sent a chill through migrant networks. The name resonates.

At G4S-run Tinsley House last October a 10 year old asylum-seeker who had been forcibly arrested and locked up, let go, arrested and locked up again, got predictably distressed and tried to strangle herself.

This year, in March, a report by Baroness Nuala O’Loan into allegations of abuse by G4S and other contractors found, ‘inadequate management of the use of force by the private sector companies’, and made 22 recommendations for change.

Clegg’s back-track on detention

‘After Labour’s decade-long assault on civil liberties . . . we’ve scrapped child detention in the immigration system,’ boasted Nick Clegg in a begging letter to supporters just before the Lib Dem’s party’s conference. Alas this was not true.

Please ensure they end child detention

Liberal Democrats are understandably confused about whether child detention is ending or not.

Nick Clegg got the commitment to end child detention into the Coalition Agreement. Only last Thursday Sarah Teather promised: ‘Rest assured. It will be done.’

She also said: ‘We have to be careful not to rush into this as we are dealing with the safety and well-being of often vulnerable children and it is essential it is done properly.’

Quite how children’s safety might be served by not rushing to end a practice proven to wreck their lives is a mystery that suggests leading Liberal Democrats have been gulled by the detention enthusiasts at the Home Office.

State-sponsored cruelty

The Liberal Democrats must fight to salvage their promise to end the detention of children for immigration purposes in the UK.

Ask Boy A what he is scared of and he says dogs, strangers and policemen. He is scared to go outside and play with friends. At night he wets his bed. He cannot sleep without his mother. He is nine years old.

At their autumn conference this weekend Liberal Democrats wanting to rescue their end child detention pledge from Home Office sabotage will find ammunition in a chilling new report from Medical Justice.

Double detention

No wonder security company G4S was ‘disappointed’ with the news that the government is to close Oakington immigration detention centre, where a 40-year-old asylum seeker collapsed and died amid claims that he had been denied swift medical help.

Homer’s oddity

Amid mounting political concern about child detention just before the General Election, UKBA granted private contractors Serco a contract to carry on running Yarl’s Wood for the next three years, costing the tax-payer £900,000 every month.

Child’s prey

Last year, after a serious incident of child sex abuse at Yarl’s Wood, UKBA singularly failed to investigate the incident or provide adequate care for the children involved.

Let’s make the end of child detention herald a humane and evidence-based approach to asylum

Clare Sambrook and Esmé Madill, coordinators of End Child Detention Now, on the crucial next stage of the campaign.

When the new government said, ‘We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes,’ some people proclaimed victory. But, as the families locked up in Yarl’s Wood pointed out in a letter published in the Observer, ‘we are still here in the detention centre’.

Despair, hope and despair again: the rollercoaster ride towards ending child detention

The new government’s promise to ‘end the detention of children for immigration purposes’, sparked hopes that this country might at last be moving towards an asylum policy based on evidence and not led by politicians’ terror of the tabloids.

Having acknowledged that child detention was wrong, the government’s logical next step would be to release the families currently being held and call off the hit-squads whose work is arresting and detaining families in conditions known to harm their mental health.

But the government has not released the families. The dawn raids carry on regardless.

When they said ‘We will end child detention,’ they meant ‘Keep on arresting babies’

At 11.36 this morning the mother of an 8-month old baby made a desperate plea for help on her mobile.

‘I told them please don’t send me and my baby in the van for nine hours, she is too young, I asked them to speak to my lawyer. But she just told me, “Look either you go in the van or we will take your baby in a separate van and you won’t see her until you get to Yarl’s Wood.”’

Samaranch, Kissinger and the Coca Cola company:
a relentless fascist’s curious date with democracy

The day Juan Antonio Samaranch, the leader of the 'Olympic Movement' who died last month, faced allegations of corruption at a US Congressional hearing.

I happened to be there on Capitol Hill one bright December morning when Juan Antonio Samaranch, who last month died of heart failure, aged 89, had his first and only encounter with democratic scrutiny

It was 1999. The leader of the ‘Olympic Movement’ had spent the year manoeuvring to save his skin — and the Olympic myth — from financial catastrophe threatened by a well-earned corruption scandal. He had been summoned under threat of subpoena to testify before the Commerce Subcommittee, whose mission was to ‘go after fraud and abuse wherever we find it’.

Waiting in line before the hearing, I caught sight of Samaranch, standing apart, cut off from his entourage, small, old and apprehensive. I felt sorry for him . . . almost.

Scare centres

‘We recognise that when your child arrives at one of our centres they may be bewildered, tired and worried,’ security giant G4S tells families of young people locked up at its secure training centres. Children may be rightly worried.

Bucks for Berks

Could the decision to pay extraordinary rewards for ordinary performance be anything to do with the trust’s remuneration committee, some of whom are clearly out of touch?

Let’s ensure they really do end child detention now

If the government means the immediate closure of Yarl's Wood, that should be a cause for great rejoicing. We must hold them to it

‘We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes,’ says today’s coalition agreement. A stunning victory for children, decency and the Liberal Democrats if this pledge proves good. That may be a very big if.
Days before the Election David Cameron offered to set up a ‘working party’ including charities to ‘review child detention’. What’s to review? NHS paediatricians and psychologists Lorek et al six months ago found that children at Yarl’s Wood were ‘clearly vulnerable, marginalized, and at risk of mental and physical harm as a result of state sanctioned neglect (inadequate care and protection), and possibly abuse in the sense of exposure to violence within the detention facilities themselves.’

Gordon Brown: the child detention letters

Following Brown's speech to Citizens UK today, there was a remarkable moment during which the Prime Minister, attempting to leave the stage, was challenged by the assembled citizens on whether he would put an end to the government's detention of children in immigration centres like Yarl's Wood. After a failed attempt to deflect the question, he said he 'wanted no child to suffer' and promised to look at the issue - an answer that left many who were there unsatisfied. Cameron too said he would review the practice, and only Clegg promised to end it. OurKingdom publishes an exchange on child detention between Gordon Brown and Clare Sambrook, journalist and Open Democracy author who campaigns with End Child Detention Now.

read on at openDemocracy

Crime pays

G4S Nick Buckles pockets £1,656,251, on top of a £6million pension pot, on top of a £115,000 divi payment on his £4 million stack of shares, as detainee Eliud Nguli Nyense dies at Oakington Detention Centre.

Election time: asylum seekers lose their last safety net

When terrified men, women and children are being shunted off to countries where they face real and imminent risk of rape, torture, genital mutilation or death, an MP’s urgent appeal to government may tip the balance, stalling removal directions, making time to get legal advice.

But not during a general election campaign, when MPs lose their right to represent constituents' grievances. ‘We will not be able to respond to former MPs, or prospective parliamentary candidates on individual cases,’ says the UK Border Agency, ‘unless there is a signed letter of authority from the individual they are representing.’

For an asylum seeker banged up unexpectedly in a detention centre, isolated from help and support, with little English, no legal advice, restricted access to a fax machine, and facing a dawn deportation flight, the effect until May 6th is likely to be: no representation.

Surveillance + detention = £Billions: How Labour’s friends are ‘securing your world’

At the bustling Counter Terror Expo in London’s Olympia this week they are giving top billing to the security industry’s favourite politician. ‘The most experienced cabinet minister of modern times’, they call him: Dr John Reid.

Home office colleagues say Reid — Labour hard man, former secretary of state for health and defence, and home secretary — is the minister who brought business in from the cold. These days relations are warm and cosy. Marketing their wares as vital to the war on terror, while dreaming up everyday applications for intrusive high security kit, Reid’s friends have quietly advanced deep into the public sector — running schools, GP clinics and police investigations.

Pulling the Woolas

Is minister Phil Woolas —  the MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth (majority 4,225) —  lying about child detention in order to appease the 5,435 Oldham residents  who voted BNP in last year’s Euro Elections?

‘All the detainees are treated with dignity and respect’

Rima Andmariam, aged 16, woken by Yarl’s Wood staff and told to dress for deportation the morning after her removal had been halted.

read on

Has Meg Hillier gone mad?

Home Office minister Meg Hillier took a leap into la la land on today’s BBC Daily Politics Programme, claiming that if the government stopped locking up asylum seekers and their children, then the price of trafficked children would rise, putting more children at risk of trafficking.

I am not making this up.

Hillier, who has three young children of her own, said: ‘Now with children being detained I’m faced with a number of options. One is that we just stop it altogether, but then we would have children, I think, with a very high price on them, because we’d actually be saying, if you have a child you will never be detained to be deported. And I think that it would raise the risk of child trafficking and put a very high price on a child, so I’d be very reluctant to go down that route.’

It’s not as if Hillier blurted out this nonsense live and inadvertently.

Take one traumatised child, classify as 'adult', arrest, lock up, and bundle onto plane, bound for danger - Labour's Britain in 2010

‘He looks my age,’ says my nine-year-old son. ‘He looks sort of like me.’ There’s a picture on my screen: a small, slight boy who, for legal reasons, we’ll call M. He’s being cuddled by his 17 year old big brother Z. Both boys are smiling. They have been reunited after a long, hard separation.

Back home in war-torn Afghanistan their parents and a sister were killed. Big brother Z was first to come to Britain, traumatised, in November 2008. He has refugee status, studies for his GCSEs at school in Leicester.

This past October little brother M made his way here. Despite M’s size, his vulnerability, his boyish looks, officials said, you’re not 14, you’re an adult.

Jolly happy children at Yarl’s Wood

Government lies about the suffering of children in detention

Uniformed men break down your door, burst in, shout at your children, Get up! Get Up! You may pack a few belongings. Your boy needs a wee. The woman in uniform watches over him in case of . . . what?

Your children are in danger and there is nothing, absolutely nothing you can do to protect them.

Sir Al Aynsley-Green’s new report on children banged up at Yarl’s Wood has survived Government attempts to neuter it — but only just.

Ed Balls and his iron hat

The Children, Schools and Families Bill is a stealth attack on liberty

My children, educated at home under their own direction, see themselves in Tom, the Russell Hoban character who likes to fool around with sticks and stones and crumpled bits of paper, bent nails, glass and holes in fences.

Tom’s maiden aunt, Miss Fidget Wonkham-Strong, who wears an iron hat, believes that too much playing is bad for him, he had better stop it and do something useful, learn off pages from the Nautical Almanac, eat his cabbage-and-potato sog.

The minister, Ed Balls, would suit an iron hat.

Roll calls, body searches and sex games

What Parliament isn’t being told about children’s lives inside a UK detention centre

Back in October, a study by NHS paediatricians and psychologists, Lorek et al, found that babies and children were being harmed at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

The doctors recorded children’s 'increased fear due to being suddenly placed in a facility resembling a prison', their weight loss and tummy pains, how older children were so stressed they wet their beds and soiled their pants.

The study related the photographing and the fingerprinting, the roll calls and the body searches, the ID cards that children must carry at all times, the ten locked doors between freedom and the family centre, the steep deterioration in parents' mental health and parenting abilities, the self-harm and the suicide attempts.

And the sex games.

Serco Clowns

Serco and the Home Office threw a party to open the new school for innocent children forcibly detained at Yarl’s Wood.

Child detention: cui bono?

Who profits from locking up asylum-seeking families

There is no evidence that asylum-seekers with children are likely to abscond, yet the government forcibly detains at least 2000 children and babies every year and holds them, sometimes for months on end, in conditions known to damage their physical and mental health.

Why on earth would our government do that?

One principle that has guided investigations since Roman times is: Cui Bono? Who benefits?

Business is booming at G4S, the company that runs Tinsley House Removal Centre where last month ten-year-old Adeoti Ogunsola, after being forcibly redetained, tried to strangle herself.

Detention of asylum seeking children is abuse

One key feature of government guidance issued this week on how UK Border Agency staff should care for the children they lock up, is  ‘safer recruitment’.

Officers raiding family homes and searching children in their beds will be thoroughly checked, with ‘references always taken up’.

That begs the question: just how low were standards until now?

Labour's to blame for the BNP

Peter Hain's call to fight the far-right party is right, but he and his chums have paved its way

Along with many readers who have responded to Peter Hain's article on tackling the BNP, I blame its rise on him and his discredited government.