Britain should not copy Australia's "morally abominable" off-shore asylum system under any circumstances with "ludicrous and inhumane" ideas like sending migrants to Ascension Island, a human rights lawyer says.
Sonya Sceats, who is chief executive of charity Freedom from Torture, said she was "horrified" by a series of leaks suggesting the UK government was considering ideas based on the approach her home country Australia takes towards asylum seekers.
The UK proposal is said to include processing asylum seekers on Ascension Island in the Atlantic - some 6400km from the UK - or turning disused ferries out at sea into processing centres.
A leaked document also suggested the government launched a secret consultation on building floating walls to block migrants from crossing the English Channel.
Sceats told the PA news agency: "This is Britain and we can do better than that.
"I was, as an Australian, totally horrified to see us looking to Australia's morally abominable off-shore asylum system as a template for this country."
Her comments came after the Home Office's most senior civil servant, permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft, repeatedly refused to deny claims the government had "seriously" considered suggestions on using Ascension Island when questioned by MPs.
Sceats, who grew up in Australia and worked as a human rights lawyer specialising in asylum, said: "These ideas are just ludicrous and preposterous and deeply inhumane."
She claimed Australia's off-shore system led to deaths, child abuse scandals, was "preposterously expensive" and has "trashed Australia's reputation as a fair-go country".
"Britain mustn't go down this path under any circumstances and there are so many sensible solutions."
Describing Australia as a "terrible example of where whipping up fears about border control has poisoned the politics of a country for a generation", she claimed the British government was using similar tactics now and said the impacts of this are already being felt.
"They are scapegoating asylum seekers and it is totally unacceptable," she added.