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Andy Murray trolls Nigel Farage as the pair trade bitter blows in Twitter spat over Djokovic's visa


Nigel Farage has hit back at Andy Murray in a bizarre Twitter spat over the detention of Novak Djokovic in Australia.  

Djokovic, the world number one men’s tennis player, was freed from immigration detention hours after a judge ruled that border guards were wrong to tear up his visa and try to deport him because he is not vaccinated against Covid. 

A black car carrying the 34-year-old tennis ace drove out of legal offices where a virtual court hearing had taken place earlier in the day, and was immediately mobbed by fans who then got into scuffles with police.    

Former UKIP leader and MEP Nigel Farage has been supporting Djokovic’s cause online, tweeting a video from Belgrade with the tennis star’s family.

Referencing the tennis ace’s detention, Mr Farage also wrote: ‘If they can do this to the world’s No 1 tennis player, just think what they could do to you.’

Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray replied to Mr Farage, telling him to ‘record the awkward moment when you tell them you’ve spent most of your career campaigning to have people from Eastern Europe deported’.

Mr Farage has now hit back, telling Mr Murray: ‘Dear Andy, you clearly don’t understand politics or the Brexit campaign but are filled with prejudice. Concentrate on the tennis and, a word of advice, crack a smile every now and again.’

He added a smiley face emoji to the tweet.     

Former UKIP leader and MEP Nigel Farage has been supporting Djokovic's cause online, tweeting a video from Belgrade with the tennis star's family

Former UKIP leader and MEP Nigel Farage has been supporting Djokovic’s cause online, tweeting a video from Belgrade with the tennis star’s family

Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray replied to Mr Farage, telling him to 'record the awkward moment when you tell them you've spent most of your career campaigning to have people from Eastern Europe deported'

Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray replied to Mr Farage, telling him to ‘record the awkward moment when you tell them you’ve spent most of your career campaigning to have people from Eastern Europe deported’

Mr Farage has now hit back, telling Mr Murray: 'Dear Andy, you clearly don't understand politics or the Brexit campaign but are filled with prejudice. Concentrate on the tennis and, a word of advice, crack a smile every now and again.'

Mr Farage has now hit back, telling Mr Murray: ‘Dear Andy, you clearly don’t understand politics or the Brexit campaign but are filled with prejudice. Concentrate on the tennis and, a word of advice, crack a smile every now and again.’

Novak Djokovic is pictured leaving an immigration detention centre in Melbourne today, during a court hearing where a judge ruled that he should be allowed to enter Australia

Novak Djokovic is pictured leaving an immigration detention centre in Melbourne today, during a court hearing where a judge ruled that he should be allowed to enter Australia

Mr Murray kept the exchange going with a simple emoji depicting a fish caught on a line, perhaps suggesting Mr Farage had taken his 'bait'

Mr Murray kept the exchange going with a simple emoji depicting a fish caught on a line, perhaps suggesting Mr Farage had taken his ‘bait’ 

Mr Murray kept the exchange going with a simple emoji depicting a fish caught on a line, perhaps suggesting Mr Farage had taken his ‘bait’. 

It comes after Government counsel Christopher Tran notified the Austrialian court that the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke – not the minister who made the original visa cancellation – will now consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation of Djokovic’s visa. 

The Australian court had published an order made yesterday that Djokovic be taken from the Park Hotel – where he had been held since Thursday – and brought to ‘a premises as specified by the applicant’s solicitors’ during the hearing.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC VISA SAGA: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW 

What happened when Djokovic arrived in Australia?

Novak Djokovic touched down in Melbourne about 11.30pm on Wednesday night, and was swiftly taken in for questioning by Border Force officials.

He spent about six hours speaking with officials before a decision was made to cancel his visa on the basis that he could not validate his medical exemption to arrive in Australia without a Covid-19 vaccine.

He was swiftly taken to a detention centre in the heart of Melbourne, where he remains. 

Why is Djokovic in court?

Immediately after his visa was cancelled, Djokovic and his team indicated they would fight the decision. 

They appeared before the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia on Thursday afternoon, where the matter was postponed until Monday, 10am.

On Monday, Djokovic’s lawyers will argue to reverse the decision to cancel the visa. The government hope to have the decision supported.

If Djokovic loses his appeal, he could be deported as early as Monday night, but it is likely to be more complex than that.

Who is responsible for the bungle?

Court documents and leaked letters have helped piece together the puzzle of how the messy visa situation occurred.

Since Djokovic was detained, officials have hand balled responsibility between themselves. 

Djokovic was informed by Tennis Australia that he was exempt to travel to Australia and play. It’s understood his application was assessed by two bodies – one assigned by TA and the other by the Victorian state government.

On Saturday night, it was revealed via court documents that Djokovic had also received correspondence from the Department of Home Affairs – a federal body – which indicated he was free to travel to Australia.

But this has been revealed to be an arrivals assessment form, and not official confirmation he was granted quarantine-free travel. 

No single party has accepted responsibility for the debacle, and at least one other tennis player has been sent home after they were initially approved with the same exemption.

Will Djokovic play in the Australian Open?

Djokovic will likely know if he will be competing in the Australian Open 2022 by 4pm Monday.

Commentators and legal experts are finding it challenging to predict an outcome for the case given it is constantly developing and has happened so quickly.

The hearing was delayed by technical issues with the court’s video link, but Djokovic’s lawyers argued their case to Judge Kelly, who asked the court ‘What more could this man have done?’ and said he was ‘agitated’ about the issue of Djokovic’s medical exemption.

‘Here, a professor and an eminently qualified physician have produced and provided to the applicant a medical exemption,’ Judge Kelly said.

‘Further to that, that medical exemption and the basis on which it was given was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government and that document was in the hands of the delegate.’

Djokovic’s lawyer, Nicholas Wood, has argued the notice of intention to cancel his visa was defective because it was made on ‘a confusing blend of two grounds’.

He also argued that Djokovic was treated at the airport as if access to lawyers ‘couldn’t possibly’ be of assistance in the matter and was not given a reasonable chance to respond to the notice.

At a press conference, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked by a reporter to respond to comments from Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley stating he was given conflicting government advice on medical exemptions.

Mr Morrison said: ‘Well, the matter is before the court so I can’t comment on the matter before the court … but in relation to the government, our government, the federal government’s advice to Tennis Australia, that was set out very clearly in November, as I read the extract from this very podium, it could not be more clear.’

Mr Morrison refused to comment on court documents submitted by the government which indicate Djokovic may remain in detention despite winning his appeal.

The documents urged the court to only ‘quash the decision and costs’ and said ‘it is inappropriate to make any further orders, whether they be for immediate release or even remitter to the delegate for reconsidering according to the law’.

They also noted: ‘An order for immediate release does not prevent re-detention if there is power to detain.’

It was revealed in court documents submitted by Djokovic’s lawyers that the player had been infected with Covid-19 in December 2021. The documents said the infection was the basis of Djokovic’s medical exemption.

The documents also noted that Djokovic expressed ‘shock’, ‘surprise, and ‘confusion’ when he was notified of his visa cancellation ‘given that (as he understood it) he had done everything he was required to enter Australia’.

But Australia’s Home Affairs Department filed court documents in which it stated ‘there is no such thing as an assurance of entry by a non-citizen into Australia’ and noted that the Minister has the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa a second time if the court rules in his favour.

‘As the Court raised with the parties at a previous mention, if this Court were to make orders in the applicant’s favour, it would then be for the respondent to administer the Act in accordance with law. That may involve the delegate deciding whether to make another cancellation decision, but there are also other powers in the Act, as the Court would be aware.’

In the transcript of his interview with Australian Border Force, when asked why he was travelling to Australia, Djokovic said: ‘I’m a professional tennis player and the main reason for me coming to Australia is participating in the Australian Open in Melbourne Victoria.’

In response to a question about his vaccination status, he said: ‘I am not vaccinated.’

When asked if he had ever had Covid-19, Djokovic replied: ‘I had Covid twice, I had Covid in June 2020 and I had Covid recently in – I was tested positive – PCR – 16th December 2021.’



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