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Security chiefs have warned Priti Patel not to water down visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees because of the risk they could include Islamic State terrorists, mercenaries and mafia-linked criminals, The Mail on Sunday has learned.

The Home Secretary has faced intense political pressure over the past week for the low number of refugees being allowed in to the UK, contributing to renewed speculation over her political future.

But senior intelligence sources said Ms Patel had been ‘placed in a very difficult position’ because MI5 and MI6 had warned against a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the humanitarian crisis which could store up security problems for the future.

The Home Secretary has faced intense political pressure over the past week for the low number of refugees being allowed in to the UK, contributing to renewed speculation over her political future

The Home Secretary has faced intense political pressure over the past week for the low number of refugees being allowed in to the UK, contributing to renewed speculation over her political future

The Home Secretary has faced intense political pressure over the past week for the low number of refugees being allowed in to the UK, contributing to renewed speculation over her political future

Pressure has grown on Ms Patel after a number of stories appeared in the media criticising her performance over the issue. 

Many IS soldiers are believed to have travelled to Ukraine from Syria after Russia intervened to aid President Bashar Assad’s forces in 2015. They then joined the fight against Russia in separatist regions in the east of Ukraine.

Chechen mercenaries are also fighting in the war on both sides, while security services also fear hardened criminals have been released from prison by both the Ukrainian and Russian regimes to fight. Organised crime bosses from Belurus are also believed to have entered Ukraine

More than 1.5 million refugees have crossed the border into Poland since the start of the war, gaining them access to the EU.

In the wake of the reports, Boris Johnson called Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, to demand a crackdown on ‘hostile leaks’ about Ms Patel – the latest evidence of tensions between the Home Secretary and her civil servants, who have been accused of obstructing her aims

In the wake of the reports, Boris Johnson called Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, to demand a crackdown on ‘hostile leaks’ about Ms Patel – the latest evidence of tensions between the Home Secretary and her civil servants, who have been accused of obstructing her aims

In the wake of the reports, Boris Johnson called Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, to demand a crackdown on ‘hostile leaks’ about Ms Patel – the latest evidence of tensions between the Home Secretary and her civil servants, who have been accused of obstructing her aims

An intelligence source said: ‘No-one disputes that this is a humanitarian tragedy, and that 99.9 per cent of the refugees are genuine. But we cannot just allow a complete open-door policy.

‘Ukraine is a melting pot at the moment, and we have already been presented with fake passports.

‘People talk about Poland being “more generous” than the UK but it’s not that – their border has ceased to exist in any meaningful fashion, so we have to make sure we are not storing up problems for the future.

‘The Home Secretary is right not to mount a knee-jerk response on emotional grounds. She has been put in a very difficult position’.

The security services have also argued against plans for an online visa system, arguing that it would be too vulnerable to hacking by Moscow agents – both to sabotage it and to glean information about applicants.

In addition, the security services are understood to have advised against an upscaled visa processing centre in Calais, fearing it would exercise too much of a ‘pull factor’ and could expose female refugees to the risk of coming into contact with people-traffickers.

Source: Daily Mail

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