MPs have raised concerns that a man accused of raping a teenage boy has gone missing from a hotel used to house asylum seekers. Labour said the reports raise “some questions” about how the Home Office has handled the case. In the Commons, Conservative MP Greg Smith (Buckingham) raised the case of someone he described as an asylum seeker who he said was under investigation for a “serious offence”. He claimed the Metropolitan Police transferred the individual to a hotel in Buckinghamshire, but did not escort him inside the building. The Metropolitan Police said a 39-year-old had been arrested after officers were called to reports of a rape at a hotel in Waltham Forest on October 5. The Met said the man is currently on bail pending further inquiries and must return to the police station on a date in early January.
'Process wholly unacceptable'
Mr Smith said in the Commons: “Buckinghamshire Council learned third-hand from a London borough just this morning that an asylum seeker who is under investigation for a very serious offence was transferred to the asylum hotel in Buckingham by the Metropolitan Police but was not escorted into the premises and has since gone missing.” “That process is wholly unacceptable,” the Buckingham MP said, while asking for a commitment “that everything possible is being done to apprehend that individual and ensure that until that investigation is completed they are in secured accommodation?” Home Office minister Robert Jenrick replied: “That does sound like a very concerning incident, and he has my assurance that I will raise that with the Home Office and indeed with the police and will report back to him.” Labour MP Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) later made a point of order in the Commons, saying: “The immigration minister responded to a concern raised by the member for Buckinghamshire … regarding the absconsion of a gentleman who it subsequently… from press reports has been accused of a very serious assault in my constituency of a young refugee child.”
Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The reports of the case are very serious and do raise some questions about how the Home Office has handled this case. “We don’t know the full circumstances at the moment, but could you use your good offices to ensure that the immigration minister does update us and does fully investigate this case?” Security minister Tom Tugendhat, replying for the Government, told MPs: “I’m sure I speak for the immigration minister and policing minister to say that they will both look into it very carefully, and I’m sure they will return to answer these questions.” A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “Police were called on Wednesday, October 5 to a report of a rape at a hotel in Waltham Forest. “Officers attended and spoke to the victim, a boy in his teens, and his family. Specialist support is being provided to them. “A 39-year-old man was arrested at the scene and taken into custody. “He is currently on bail pending further enquiries and must return to the police station on a date in early January. “His accommodation status in the interim period is a matter for the Home Office, not the police.” A Home Office source said: “The bail conditions of this suspect are a matter for the police and we do not have any powers to detain him. There is no evidence he has absconded.”
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