Priti Patel says govt ‘must be ruthless’ in response to 39 found dead in lorry

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LONDON: The Home Secretary Priti Patel has told Parliament that the government must be “ruthless” in its response to 39 people found dead in a refrigerated container in Essex.

Priti Patel told MPs the “tragic events” in Essex last week show “there is much, much more to do”, before criticising “organised criminals” driving illegal migration, adding: “We must be ruthless in our response.”

She said that work is under way to co-ordinate an international response to the “appalling” incident. Providing an update to the Commons, Ms Patel said: “I would also like to remind colleagues that this is going to be a long and meticulous investigation.”

It comes as the driver accused of killing the 39 migrants who were in the lorry appeared in court for the first time via videolink. Maurice Robinson, 25, is thought to be part of a “global ring” of people smugglers, Chelmsford magistrates’ court heard.

Ms Patel said: “It will… involve working with partners overseas, with foreign law enforcement agencies, and unravelling the threat of criminality that could stretch halfway across the world.

Ms Patel said Border Force is “increasing their presence” in Purfleet while the Home Office is “accelerating” its joint intelligence-led operation with the police and others to try to “disrupt and deter” organised crime gangs using refrigerated and hard-sided lorries to “smuggle clandestine migrants”.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott asked whether security now needs to be increased at smaller ports and also whether the UK will continue to work with Europol after Brexit. Ms Abbott added: “Can the Home Secretary further explain how this co-operation can continue in the future under either a no-deal Brexit or the Prime Minister’s deal?

“Because as it stands we will lose the current level of co-operation, we will not have real-time access to EU agency databases, we will lose to access to a host criminal databases and we will lose access to the European arrest warrant.”

Manhunt

A manhunt has been launched for two brothers who are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking over the deaths of 39 people found dead in a lorry in Essex.

Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, both from Armagh in Northern Ireland, are being sought by the police investigating the incident.

Detectives from Essex Police released information and photographs of the pair on Tuesday. Ronan – who also goes by Rowan – and Christopher also have links to the Republic of Ireland. 

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated trailer attached to a lorry in an industrial park in Grays in the early hours of last Wednesday.

Lorry driver

The lorry driver . Maurice Robinson was appeared in court charged with the manslaughter of 39 people found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex. Maurice Robinson, of Northern Ireland, was remanded in custody at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Robinson, of Laurel Drive in Craigavon, appeared via video-link and is charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering. He will next appear at the Old Bailey on 25 November.