Britain turns its back on more than half our Iraqi interpreters

The Times today really says it all:

More than half the Iraqi interpreters who applied to come to live in Britain have had their applications rejected, drawing accusations that the Government is “wriggling out” of its promise to help former Iraqi employees.

The Times has learnt that 125 of the 200 interpreters who took up the offer to resettle in Britain have failed to meet the strict criteria laid down for eligibility…

In three cases seen by The Times, former Iraqi employees were told that they were ineligible because of “absenteeism”.

The interpreters claim that they risked their lives to serve the British and are living in constant danger of reprisal from Shia militias. If they did not show up for work, it was because they were fleeing for their lives. They said that they now felt betrayed by the Government…

Lynne Featherstone, a Liberal Democrat MP who has championed the cause of the Iraqi interpreters, said that the Government needed to use its imagination in a difficult case.

“If those Iraqis who have helped us are now being told that they can’t come here because their absence was regarded as a resignation, this is the world gone mad,” she said.

If you’re as angry about this as I am – there are two things you can do:

  1. There’s an EDM (a sort of Parliamentary petition) you can ask your MP to sign. It’s EDM 401 and you can read it here and see who has signed it.
  2. You can sign the petition at

(If you’d like some more background on the issue, you can read my recent article on the subject).

0 thoughts on “Britain turns its back on more than half our Iraqi interpreters

  1. I read the article in The Times on Tuesday about the fate of the Iraqi Translators and was absolutely appalled at the fact that our Uk Government, our representatives in the world, had been behaving in such a shabby dispicable manner. It makes me ashamed to be British.Steve Churchman, Liberal Democrat County Councillor, Gwynedd

  2. WE will stand by them. Surely this is just another excessive extension of dotting the i and crossing the t which has just about run its course!

  3. Well done Lynne, and keep up the good work (it was a shame to some notable absentees from the list of those who supported your EDM). As a former conference interpreter, I can only concur with your analysis that the government is trying to wriggle out of its commitments. By coincidence, I went to view four Magna Cartae on display together at Oxford on Tuesday and was reminded of the analysis of those learned commentators who have pointed out that Bills of Rights etc. only come into being when there is a fundamental threat to civil liberties (and that Magna Carta remains valid when we consider extraordinary renditions, detention orders, the extension of the 28 day rule, and Guantanamo). Is it so surprising that the only EU member state that has refused to enshrine the Charter of Fundamental Rights into its national legal system should be the UK? I think not.