Update | Deportation drama as court orders stop to flight
A last-gasp attempt to halt the highly publicised deportation charter flight from the United Kingdom (UK) to Jamaica apparently failed, even though the Court of Appeal in London yesterday ruled that the Home Office refrain, at least for now, from removing some or all of the 50 people to afford them due process.
Anti-detention campaigner Bella Sankey said that she believed that the stop order may have prevented some detainees held at one immigration centre from boarding the flight, the Guardian newspaper reported. It is unclear how many of the initial 50 passengers made the trip.
The stop order was made mainly to satisfy legal requirements that give detainees the right to contact their lawyers, as the telephone network in the detention centres have been having problems since last month.
The Court of Appeal made the ruling in an emergency out-of-hours hearing last night.
Appeal judge Ingrid Ann Simler ordered the Home Office to halt the deportation unless they had access to functioning, non-O2 SIM cards on or before February 3.
The planned charter flight is specifically for deporting foreign national offenders who have been incarcerated for crimes such as manslaughter, rape, violence and dealing in Class-A drugs.
Yesterday’s eleventh-hour intervention was cause for optimism for Desmond Jaddoo, founder of the Birmingham Empowerment Forum and chairman of the Windrush Movement UK, who believes that the decision justified the group’s argument that the flight should not have taken place.
“The Windrush Movement UK and coalition members welcome the ruling from Lady Justice Simler. Clearly, this is evident that our argument that the flight must not take place before the release of the Wendy Williams Lesson Learned review of the Windrush issues, as the Home Office is still not following due process and human-rights laws.
“In this case, freedom of access to legal representation is important,” said Jaddoo, who is currently in Jamaica on vacation.
He said, however, that he has been reliably informed that Jamaicans were still being rounded up and being taken to the Colnbrook detention centre despite the court order.
“Clearly, this is abuse, and I do believe now it is the time for the Jamaican Government to act on this court order and refuse this plane to land, if and when they eventually do allow the deportation,” Jaddoo said.
LACK OF TRUST
He said that there was a common thread connecting the deportation saga and the Windrush scandal that involved the forced removal of Caribbean citizens who had migrated to Britain between the late 1940s and 1973 because they had failed to regularise their status.
“There is the lack of trust in the UK government and a lack of confidence in the Jamaican Government around the issues. Right now, we hear a lot of talk from the UK high commissioner, but we are not satisfied with all the talk from him because the bottom line is that people are not coming forward,” Jaddoo noted.
Yesterday, British Home Secretary Priti Patel defended London’s plan for the deportation, saying she was bound by legislation to deport them, after more than 170 UK members of parliament had called for the flight to be cancelled.
Diane Abbott, who is the shadow home secretary, said the move was unfair, as some of the people arrived in the UK as children and “have no memory” of the country of their birth.
A leaked draft of the Windrush scandal report said that the UK government should consider ending the deportation of foreign-born offenders who came to Britain as children.