Paddington, go home: Home Office staff pin up faked deportation notices

Over the past week mocked up immigration enforcement notices have begun to appear on internal Home Office staff noticeboards, featuring photographs of Paddington Bear, stating that he is wanted so he can be placed on a relocation flight to Rwanda.

Elsewhere, staff have noticed a rash of Refugees Welcome stickers, affixed to Home Office printers and pieces of furniture in departmental buildings around the country.

The organiser of the Our Home Office protest group, bringing together staff opposed to Rwanda deportations, said unease about the proposed removals has galvanised employees from all over the government department to take subversive action.

“It’s still a small, low-level campaign, but it’s growing and is already networked in offices throughout the country,” the group’s founder said, asking not to be named in order to protect his job at the department. “The announcement of the Rwanda transportation plan was really a significant moment for a lot of staff members who were quite shocked by how barbaric a proposal it is, particularly the way that it seems to be against the refugee convention and the principles that we are trying to uphold of giving people fair treatment.”

More rolls of Refugees Welcome stickers have been posted out in the past few days to members of staff who have got in touch through a protest group website, the organiser said. “No one expects working in the Home Office to be easy but this has pushed a lot of people over the edge,” the employee said.

Staff members have also pinned up posters rewording official departmental mission statements, so that one reads: “Courageous: We have the spine to say ‘no, minister’. No to hostile environments, no to shutting down democracy, no to racist deportations.”

Internal discomfort about the Rwanda policy has already been expressed during internal online sessions. The PCS union, which represents some Home Office staff, is also involved with legal action challenging the legality of the policy.

A Home Office spokesperson said it was the responsibility of civil servants to serve the government of the day, and that employees who were found to breach internal rules would face disciplinary action.

“Thousands of civil servants work tirelessly every day on priorities that matter to the British people, and the Home Office has worked hard to be as constructive and open with staff on our policies,” the spokesperson said.

“We urge all civil servants to use the mechanisms available to them to provide feedback. It is disappointing some staff are taking action that is detrimental to the department and we will take action where necessary.”

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