Harper gets his way: Minister's cleaner is deported

Booked: Deportees typically are taken to short-term accommodation before the flight
Booked: Deportees typically are taken to short-term accommodation before the flight
Ian Dunt By

It appears that Isabella Acevedo, the former cleaner of Home Office minister Mark Harper, has been deported.

Acevedo's lawyer said the Home Office reported she was "deported without incident" at 7:55am this morning.

It's possible she was put on the 6.20am flight to Madrid, with a connecting flight to Bogota.

As usual, the information is partial, difficult to come by and subject to change. But it does appear that Acevedo is no longer in the country.


Her daughter, whose wedding was ruined when immigration burst in and dragged away her mother, is said to be very distressed.

Two officers came into Acevedo's room at the detention centre just after midnight last night, while she was still in nightwear, and led her away.

No-one at Yarl's Wood was available to comment.

As I wrote earlier this week, the requirements of giving the deportee advance details of their flight means the Home Office is planning to sidestep protests by making the person incommunicado at least 24 hours in advance.

If Acevedo was directly deported it begs the question of whether she was given notification of the flight in line with the rules. I can't imagine she was given details of the flight and did not inform her lawyer, who had visited moments beforehand.

We just don't know and we probably won't be able to find out until she gets off her flight. The Home Office refuses to comment on individual cases.

This is a chilling period in deportations, when the official account goes silent and you lose all contact with the person in question. It's a period when you recognise the full might of the state.

Why this needs to happen so late at night, when the individual is in their nightwear and preparing for bed, is another matter. This type of action puts the fear in fellow detainees. It shows them there is no time they are safe. There is no reason it could not be done at a civilised hour.

There's been something grotesque about the way the government conducted this operation from the start.

From the moment Harper realised he was resigning the might of the Home Office swung behind him. Hours before the story broke they went to Acevedo's flat. They broke in and blockaded it so she couldn't get in.

Then, in what we now think was a revenge operation designed to humiliate her and her family, they sent 15 burly, aggressive immigration officers to her daughter's wedding. They dragged her away. Then they interviewed the daughter and tried to stop the marriage.

In the van one told her: "We told you we would get you. I was there the last time. I raided your house. We've got you now. You've nowhere to run'."

Even the manner of the deportation suggests an abusive attitude. They waited two minutes after the deportation window began to grab her and take her away. The decision to do it at midnight, as she was getting ready for bed, is telling.

Harper will breathe a little easier today, as he settles into his new government job at the Department for Work and Pensions.

It's one rule for him, another for her. The Home Office's immigration operations increasingly resemble those of a tin-pot dictatorship, rounding up supposed enemies in the night and making them disappear. There is an unmistakeable viciousness there; a trace of venom.

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