Sky News host forced to correct left-wing activist’s Tory claim in migrant clash

First asylum seekers arrive on Bibby Stockholm barge

The Chief Executive of the refugee charity Care4Calais clashed with a Sky News presenter live on-air this afternoon.

Care4Calais, a refugee crisis charity, claimed it had stopped around 20 asylum seekers from various locations from boarding the barge this afternoon.

Around 50 people were expected to move onto the vessel today but the Home Office confirmed just 15 were now on board.

Discussing the move this afternoon, Steve Smith slammed the situation as “absurd”, adding: “It seems to be a situation in some degree of chaos and panic.”

He said: “We have seen that from the fact a minister said today it could be 500 by the end of the week. I mean that is clearly absurd.”

But Sky News host Sarah-Jane Mee was then forced to step in and say: “But that has also been corrected by the Government. The minister made a mistake in saying that.”

Mr Smith replied: “Indeed, but the point I am making is that there seems to be a degree of chaos around the circumstances.”

He added that it “wouldn’t be right” to say they had stopped them from boarding, and instead insisted the group had “presented their details to law firms who are challenging the decision to send them on board”.

READ MORE: Rishi’s migrant barge is not the solution, but it’s part of it – Andrew Davies

The Bibby Stockholm is one of a number of alternative sites the Home Office is using to end reliance on expensive hotels for asylum seekers, which the government says is costing £6million a day.

The decision to move asylum seekers to the remote location in Portland Port, Dorset, has sparked a debate as human rights activists share a concern for the welfare of those staying onboard.

Protesters gathered at Portland Harbour on Monday with welcome packs containing toiletries and contact details of organisations offering support to migrants.

Care4Calais said it will continue working with asylum seekers who don’t want to be moved into the accommodation.

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Responding to Mr Smith, host Sarah-Jane Mee said the asylum seekers were receiving “24-hour round-the-clock nurses” and that the “Government is providing a level of care to those people”.

But the activist said there were still a number of risks to people onboard.

He said: “This is an unsuitable place to house asylum seekers, it was built for 220 but they are trying to cram 500 onboard. The fire safety is still a strong risk. Cramming so many people onboard raises the transmission of disease.

“Many of those who go onboard may have already been held in detention so there’s a risk of them being re-traumatised.”

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