Seven Nigerian men accused of hijacking an oil tanker off the coast of the Isle of Wight will not face action, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced.
The decision leaves the men free to claim asylum to the UK and has prompted a backlash from the Home Office, who are reportedly “disappointed” and “frustrated”. They also pledged to deport them.
The Special Boat Service was deployed to storm the Nave Andromeda on the 25th of October last year, when crewmembers claimed the ship had been taken over by reportedly “violent stowaways”.
Two of the seven, Matthe Okorie, 25, and Sunday Sylvester, 22, were charged with offences of endangering ships at sea.
However, the CPS have stated that the cases were being discontinued after new expert evidence had emerged. Hampshire Police have also decided to take no action against the other five.
The CPS stated that the material supplied by a maritime expert “significantly undermined whether there was a threat of danger”. They added: “On that basis, we concluded there was no longer a realistic prospect of a conviction for this offence and discontinued the case.”
All seven men are being held in a Home Office removal centre or accommodation, from where they can claim asylum in the UK. A spokesman from the Home Office said that it was a “very serious incident” and that “the British people will struggle to understand how this can be the case”.