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Foreign Office investigating after China critical MP deported from Djibouti

Irish News
By David Lynch, PA Political Staff
Tuesday April 30, 2024

Tim Loughton Tim Loughton has been a fierce critic of Beijing (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The Foreign Office is seeking further information after an MP clamed he was deported during a visit to Djibouti.

Conservative former minister Tim Loughton said he was detained before being escorted onto a flight leaving the African nation, adding he believed this was because of its close links with China.

Mr Loughton, a fierce critic of Beijing, is among a group of UK MPs sanctioned by China in 2021.

He was visiting Djibouti on a return journey from Somaliland, when he faced scrutiny at the country’s passport control.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “I believe that in this specific case that you refer to the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) provided consular support to Mr Loughton at the time and they have also raised this case with the Djiboutians.

“Whilst obviously the authorities have the right to refuse entry at their own discretion, the FCDO have sought further information about this specific case.”

Mr Loughton had earlier told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I had been on a delegation to neighbouring Somaliland for a few days before, which is a really interesting part of the world and one where China poses a bit of a threat.

“The rest of my colleagues came back via Ethiopia but I thought I would come back via Djibouti… to see what is going on there, but also to have a meeting with the ambassador for a debrief on my way back.

“I was literally going to spend about 30 hours there before getting the plane home to London, but they wouldn’t let me in.”

Mr Loughton told the BBC he had received “strange looks” when he handed over his passport at immigration control, adding that it “all went very frosty” when he said he was an Member of Parliament.

He claimed there was “no reason not to let me into the country”, and said: “Djibouti is effectively a vassal state of China. We have been making quite a lot of criticisms of China in our trip to Somaliland because of the threat they pose in the region.”

He added: “Basically what China wants, Djibouti kowtows to, and having a troublesome MP who has been sanctioned by China turning up on their doorsteps clearly was something they didn’t want to entertain, so I was escorted onto the first plane home.”

A Chinese embassy spokesman is reported by the BBC to have said the accusations were baseless.

The embassy has been contacted for comment.


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