Home Office deports 13 men to Jamaica despite legal row

2 December 2020, 13:26

Campaigners wanted to halt the deportation flight
Campaigners wanted to halt the deportation flight. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Over a dozen "serious foreign criminals" have been deported to Jamaica on a Home Office charter flight following a major legal row over trafficking claims and petitions to have them stay in the UK.

A last-ditch plea from lawyers and campaigners failed to convince the Government to stop all the deportations - however the courts stopped around 35 people from leaving on the flight this morning.

Four people on the flight were convicted for murder and were sentenced to more than 15 years in prison each.

Another was found guilty of several serious offences, including manslaughter, criminal damage, possession of drugs and having a weapon in a public place.

Minister for immigration compliance Chris Philp said: "In the early hours of this morning 13 serious foreign criminals were deported from the UK.

"It is disappointing that specialist immigration law firms continued to use last-minute tactics to remove a significant number of offenders from this flight.

"These individuals had every opportunity to raise the claims in the days and weeks leading up to the flight, however, a significant number of claims were not submitted until hours before the flight was due to leave – meaning murderers and rapists have been able to stay in the UK.

"Those we are attempting to remove have committed crimes which have a devastating impact on victims and their families.

"We will be working through these cases as quickly as possible. I remain committed to removing foreign criminals and anyone without a legal basis to be here to keep the British public safe – which will always be my number one priority."

Immigration minister Chris Philps denied the deportations were "discriminatory"
Immigration minister Chris Philps denied the deportations were "discriminatory". Picture: PA Images

Campaigners labeled the move "discriminatory" and highlighted the effects of forcibly separating the criminals from their children.

Lawyers have spent several weeks trying to halt the flight after successful attempts in the past - something supported by several Labour MPs.

It is unknown whether Osime Brown, an autistic man who was convicted for stealing a phone, was on the flight.

But activists sparked controversy this week after comparing the deportation of criminals to Jamaica to the Windrush scandal - despite the context of the situations being different.

Mr Philp on Tuesday denied that deporting foreign national offenders is discriminatory as Conservative MPs called for "activist lawyers" to be prevented from stopping flights at the last minute.

He told the Commons that there is "no element of discrimination in this policy whatsoever" and that it applies to French and Spanish nationals just as much as individuals from Jamaica.