Suella Braverman said she “never ignored legal advice” as she faced MPs in the Commons over concerns about an overcrowded migrant processing centre.
The home secretary said she knew “the importance of taking legal advice into account” and never tried to stop migrants from the Manston migrant processing centre from being sent to hotels.
“At every point, I’ve worked hard to find accommodation to relieve pressure at Manston,” she told MPs in the Commons.
She also said illegal migration “is out of control” and spoke of an “invasion on our southern coast”.
Labour had accused the home secretary of being silent on the worsening Channel crisis and overcrowding at the Manston processing centre in Kent, where outbreaks of MRSA and diptheria have been reported.
The site is only designed to hold 1,000 people, who are meant to stay for just 24 hours, but there are currently around 4,000 migrants there – more than any UK prison population.
Hundreds more people were moved to the Manston facility yesterday, following a petrol bomb attack at the Border Force migrant centre in Dover.
The home secretary is coming under increasing pressure after a report in The Times claimed she blocked the transfer of asylum seekers from Manston to new hotels and ignored legal advice that the government was illegally detaining people there.
But she insisted several times during questions from MPs in the Commons this was wrong and she has actually approved the use of dozens of new hotels to accommodate migrants since Liz Truss made her home secretary in September, before she resigned and was reappointed six days later by Rishi Sunak.
“On no occasion have I blocked the procurement of hotels or alternative accommodation to ease the pressure on Manston, that simply isn’t true,” Mrs Braverman said.
“Since September 6 over 30 new hotels have been agreed to, they will provide an additional 4,500 bed spaces, many of to those in Manston.
“Since then 4,000 from Manston have moved onwards, most towards hotels.”
She also said she was dismayed to have found out when she became home secretary that £150 was being spent, on average, per night for each migrant to be housed in hotels.
Some four-star hotels were being used, she added.
Security breach scandal
Mrs Braverman is also facing calls to go over security breaches during her time as home secretary under Liz Truss.
New Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been under pressure over his decision to appoint Mrs Braverman as home secretary since he gave her the job last week, but has stood by her.
The home secretary resigned from the same role in Ms Truss’ government after sending sensitive policy documents from her personal email to former security minister Sir John Hayes and another MP’s aide, breaking the ministerial code.
But she was given her job back just six days later after Mr Sunak took over as prime minister.
In a letter to the home affairs committee released today, Mrs Braverman admitted she sent official documents from her government email to her personal account on six separate occasions during her first six-week stint as home secretary.
She said she apologised to Mr Sunak for the breach she resigned over when the PM reappointed her as home secretary.