/Ministers forced to remove 25 from Jamaica deportation flight after court ruling

Ministers forced to remove 25 from Jamaica deportation flight after court ruling

Downing Street drew fresh battles lines with the courts today after ministers were forced to remove 25 people from a deportation flight bound for Jamaica.

The Appeal Court blocked the deportation of 25 offenders, including some convicted of rape, manslaughter and firearms offences, to Jamaica.

Just 17 people remained on the flight, which left this morning.

It follows widespread concern over the flight, which ministers had insisted was being handled properly.

The judge said those detainees should not be removed unless the Home Office is satisfied they “had access to a functioning, non-O2 Sim card on or before February 3”.

But Boris Johnson’s spokesman said today: “The offences these people are responsible for include one manslaughter, one firearms offence, seven violent offences, two which are in the category of rape or sexual offences and 14 drugs offences.

“We bitterly regret this decision which prevents the removal from our country of foreign criminals convicted of rape, manslaughter, sexual attacks, violence and drug crimes which spread misery across our communities.

“The legal process for removing these offenders, which has included repeated appeals and judicial reviews, has already cost the British public tens of thousands of pounds.

(Image: PA)

He added: “The taxpayer will now be left with an even bigger bill and the prospect of convicts who are considered to pose a threat to the UK being granted bail while this matter is resolved.

“We make no apology whatsoever for seeking to remove serious foreign national offenders and will be urgently appealing.”

The government has repeatedly refused to confirm how many intended for the flight were convicted of non-violent offences.

And they have refused to say how many had any realistic roots in the country they were being sent to.

Some on the flight had reportedly lived in the UK for decades – one since he was two years old.

Last night one person scheduled for the flight spoke of his terror that he would “die” in Jamaica because he did not know anyone there.

Rupert, aged 31, said “If I got to Jamaica, I’ll die – I can’t survive out there. I don’t have any family out there, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what’s happening.”

It’s unclear if Rupert was among those deported this morning.

Those who did not board the flight are currently being held in detention centres but the Government is braced for lawyers to apply for the release on bail.

A source said all detainees had “ample access to other methods of communication during the mobile network outages, which predominantly took place almost a month ago between January 13 and 16”.

Alternative Sim cards were provided if they were asked for, “access to landlines and the internet, and face-to-face legal surgeries”.

Those deported out were convicted of crimes including rape, possession of firearms, violent offences including ABH (actual bodily harm) and GBH (grievous bodily harm) and supplying Class A drugs.

“Between them they had amassed sentences of over 75 years,” said the spokesman.

The Prime Minister has previously clashed with the courts over Brexit and his suspension of Parliament in September, which was ruled unlawful.

Monday’s night ruling sets up a new war between the Government and the legal system, particularly around judicial review.

The PM’s spokesman said: “It is worth a reminder of what was in the Government’s manifesto – it said that we need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution, including the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts.”

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Quoting the election blueprint, he added: “It also said, ‘we will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective Government’.”

It is thought 12 judicial reviews have been launched in recent days in a bid to stop the flight to Jamaica leaving Britain.

A No10 source said: “Both the scenes today over JR and the scenes in Parliament yesterday where Labour ran an urgent question on that and a UQ today – and more broadly the Westminster bubble’s view of trying to halt this flight with repeated JRs – makes the case perfectly to the public about why such a review is needed and why certain parts of Westminster still haven’t learned the lesson from the 2019 election.”

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