A Court of Appeals judge ordered the Home Office to stop the deportations amid concerns that some individuals set to be deported were not given access to legal advice.

Joshua Talbot | Travel & Culture Editor

Ministers in the House of Commons on Wednesday 5 February called for the Prime Minister to stop the deportation of the Caribbean nationals in what would be the second flight of its kind since the Windrush scandal.

In 2018 this was a hiatus that exposed the government’s wrongful segregation of Commonwealth citizens who had been granted the right to settle up until 1973.

Labour MP Nadia Whittome urged for the flight to be postponed until the report commissioned in light of the scandal had been released. 

Speaking in the House of Commons, she asked: “Will the Prime Minister immediately suspend the flight until the ‘lessons learned’ review is published, and the recommendations implemented?”

The plea was dismissed, with Boris Johnson stating that the people of Great Britain will think it right to ‘send back’ foreign national offenders. However, as later speakers highlighted, the severity of the crimes committed is unclear.

The Windrush scandal saw people who were described by Home Secretary at the time Amber Rudd as ‘British in all but legal status’ stripped of their rights as British Citizens. 

Those who sought to return to the UK after a trip away were suddenly denied entry and those who were still resident were prevented from using public amenities such as the NHS.

This was because of an error wherein people who settled in the UK during the ‘Windrush’ era of 1948-1970, were not given the right paperwork.

Sajid Javid, who stepped in as home secretary after Amber Rudd resigned because of the scandal, commissioned the ‘lessons learned’ review to assess the mistakes made and produce recommendations to avoid them happening again.

The report was originally meant to be published at the end of March last year, a deadline which was extended to a time suitable after it was to be submitted to Sajid Javid in September.

Further delayed, the report which was leaked to Labour MP and minister at the forefront of exposing the scandal, David Lammy, calls for the government to review their policy of deporting foreign national offenders in cases where the individual moved to the UK as a child.

It recommends that deportation should only be used in the most severe of cases and, for some of the passengers set to be leaving on February 11, it is thought that this criteria would not be met.

MP Dawn Butler cited a case of one of her constituents whose husband is due to be deported after being convicted under the joint enterprise law, which has since been rendered unlawful by the Supreme Court.

Due to the historic misinterpretation of this ruling, the court found that individuals had been falsely convicted of a crime which, in actuality, they were only present for. The ruling in 2016 called for ‘foresight’ in criminal cases to be used only as evidence for juries to make a judgement of intent from, and not as objective evidence that co-members of a gang, for example, are objectively guilty of manslaughter/ murder.

Convicted unlawfully, the North London MP explained: “His wife feels that this stress is going to kill her husband because he has a heart problem.”

The minister called for Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to take the matter seriously and to be truthful about those people who are on the flight, halting it until the true facts of the situation are clear.

In another case exposed by BBC Newsnight, Carline Angus, whose son was convicted for being in possession of class A drugs with intent to supply as a teenager, said that he should be given a chance, adding: “At the age of 17 or 18 you are classed as an adult but at the end of the day a lot of people that age don’t know what they are doing.”

Appearing on Newsnight, MP David Lammy argued that for offenders who have served their time, this is a ‘double penalty’, explaining that, for some, the severity of the crimes committed is enough to warrant deportation but, with no transparency surrounding the flight, it is clear that there are those being unjustly penalised.

In a surprise ruling on Monday 10 February, a Court of Appeals judge ordered the Home Office to stop the deportations, amid concerns that some individuals set to be deported were not given access to legal advice. However, the charter flight departed on Tuesday 11, in defiance of the court order. Seventeen of the twenty five foreign nationals have therefore been deported – a decision which has been met with extreme criticism from the general public. 

[Image Credit: Francois Van] 

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