DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Give Ukrainian refugees sanctuary

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Stop ticking boxes and give Ukrainian refugees sanctuary

The depredations and sheer inhumanity of Vladimir Putin’s marauding army in Ukraine grow worse by the day. The latest stories are almost too appalling to take in.

More than 50 killed and dozens wounded, including children, after a brutal Russian rocket strike on a Donbas railway station packed with fleeing refugees.

A pregnant teenager and 78-year-old grandmother raped, with others allegedly tortured to death in Kherson.

People walk with bicycles past apartments buildings destroyed by shelling in Chernihiv, Ukraine

In Chernihiv, more than 300 civilians locked in a cramped, decrepit school basement for a month.

They weren’t allowed to leave, even to use the toilet, and at least 12 died from suffocation.

It’s the sort of cruelty one might expect from Islamic State. Not a country that pretends to belong to the civilised world.

Yet as desperate Ukrainian families cry out to escape this place of torment and death, pettifogging bureaucrats in this country conspire to deny them sanctuary.

More than 200,000 Britons have offered to share their homes and 80,000 refugees have gratefully applied to come here.

But because of the brainless tick-box culture among council inspectors, many residences have been rejected on health and safety grounds.

Some of the reasons are truly risible. Stairs deemed ‘too steep’. Loose floorboards. A step up into the bathroom. Lack of guard rails.

A man collects pictures from a school hit by Russian rockets in the southern Ukraine village of Zelenyi Hai, between Kherson and Mykolaiv

Risk assessments must be made, of course – on properties and prospective hosts. But where’s the sense of proportion?

A mother and her children who have cowered for weeks in a bombed-out basement in Mariupol are hardly likely to worry about the floorboards in a house in Tunbridge Wells or Tadcaster.

The application process is also too complex and protracted. Despite promises to simplify it there’s still a backlog of nearly 40,000 cases.

We are in the midst of a humanitarian nightmare. Every day of quibbling and prevarication is a day wasted. And it compounds the trauma of these innocent casualties of war.

More than just a smear

Controversy over the Sunak family’s financial affairs deepened yesterday with the extraordinary revelation that the Chancellor held an American ‘green card’ and filed US tax returns for a full 18 months after taking the reins at the UK Treasury.

Quite apart from the troubling question of whether he therefore avoided paying tax in this country on US earnings (he owns property there), green card holders are meant to be permanent residents in America. Difficult for a government minister, one might think.

Coming after the news that his wealthy Indian wife Akshata Murty enjoyed non-domicile tax status in Britain, this has become a full-blown crisis for Mr Sunak.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak alongside his wife Akshata Murthy. News emerged that Mr Sunak’s wealthy Indian wife enjoyed non-domicile tax status in Britain

He condemns the attacks on his wife as ‘a smear’. She pays full UK tax on all income in this country, he says, and anyway, ‘she is not her husband’s possession’.

No, but she’s the wife of the Chancellor, so must expect her finances to be scrutinised, especially as her husband has just imposed swingeing new taxes on the British people, which she presumably won’t pay.

She implies that, as an Indian citizen, she had no option but to become a non-dom. That is not true. It was her choice.

And the problem with the Chancellor’s wife not paying UK tax, is that it looks like one rule for his family and one for the rest of us.

This is more than just a smear. There are pressing and legitimate questions to answer. How much tax has she avoided?

Will she pay it back? What other tax shelters does she use? And that’s before we even start on the green card mystery.

He may think the questions unfair. But until Mr Sunak answers them fully and frankly, the whiff of hypocrisy and double standards will not go away.

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