'Kick these b*****ds into touch': Tory fury at Euro judges for Rwanda flight block

15 June 2022, 00:39 | Updated: 15 June 2022, 09:22

Priti Patel has responded to the intervention of the Human Rights court
Priti Patel has responded to the intervention of the Human Rights court. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The government has vowed to push through with its Rwanda migrant plan, despite being forced to cancel its first deportation flight over last-minute legal appeals.

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Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement that she was "disappointed" with the outcome of the scheduled flight on Tuesday.

But she remained determined to see the plans through, adding "preparation for the next flight begins now".

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the European Court of Human Rights' decision to halt Tuesday evening's flight was a "farce".

"It has turned into a legal farce really, because all our courts have agreed that the government may go ahead with this including the Supreme Court, to be overruled by a court that had no representations made to it and just intervened on the back of stuff it had read," he said.

On a Tory WhatsApp group, one MP expressed their anger at the ECHR saying: "It's time we kicked these b*****ds  into touch. For once I won't apologise for my French," according to the MailOnline.

Whilst Government minister Guy Opperman told LBC: "Self-evidently the government is disappoint by the decision of the ECHR given that the British courts were in favour of the decision to create and then run the Rwanda migration agreement.

"But I do think this a temporary setback and I genuinely do think this. It is not a ‘you cannot do this’. It is a temporary stay that will then be considered by the UK courts on a ongoing basis."

He said it was "ridiculous" and said the government needed to "deal" with the European Convention on Human Rights.

"If we have our own bill of rights then we shouldn't have to refer constantly back to the court in Strausberg because we should rely on our own courts," he said.

He said cross-Channel migration needed to be tackled, saying: "People are dying in the Channel in these rickety boats, abused by the traffickers, paying huge sums of money."

Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement that she was "disappointed" with the outcome
Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement that she was "disappointed" with the outcome. Picture: Alamy

The Home Office confirmed the plane would not depart in the evening due to "last minute interventions from the European Court of Human Rights".

Appeals were considered by an out of hours judge on papers, overruling the UK rulings, it is understood.

Ms Patel's statement read: "I have always said this policy will not be easy to deliver and am disappointed that legal challenge and last-minute claims have meant today's flight was unable to depart.

"It is very surprising that the European Court of Human Rights has intervened despite repeated earlier success in our domestic courts.

"These repeated legal barriers are similar to those we experience with other removals flights and many of those removed from this flight will be placed on the next.

"We will not be deterred from doing the right thing and delivering our plans to control our nation's borders.

"Our legal team are reviewing every decision made on this flight and preparation for the next flight begins now."

It was confirmed on Tuesday evening that the Human Rights court had granted an injunction to stop one of the people - an Iraqi man - on the Rwanda flight being deported.

His lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie, of Leigh Day, told LBC's Iain Dale her firm successfully prevented an asylum seeker from being deported.

It was also understood a second Iraqi national was taken off the flight, with reports from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants suggesting two more people were removed after an injunction made by the European Court.

Read more: 'Traffickers are immoral not us' Truss blasts bishops for saying Rwandan plan 'shames UK'

Read more: Refugee who was 'raped and beaten' after deportation brands Rwanda plan a 'death sentence'

Founder of charity Care4Calais told LBC's Tom Swarbrick that all the refugees due to be on the flight had their own separate legal challenge based on their own circumstances.

"Each one of them has personally made a challenge on their own circumstances," she said.

"So some of them were, for example, victims of torture and had really bad mental and physical scars from that, some of them had been victims of trafficking, some of them had very bad mental health concerns, so one man for example has PTSD."

She said of the seven, five were trafficking victims and one had PTSD.

"Some of them are really struggling just with being in detention," she said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted: "Tonight's inhumane deportation of asylum seekers to #Rwanda has been stopped by the ECtHR - minutes before it was due to depart.

"Sending people fleeing violence to a country thousands of miles away was already cruel and callous.

"It's now potentially unlawful too."

Previously, the Home Office said it expected legal challenges but remained "determined to deliver this new partnership" with Rwanda and insisted the policy "fully complies with international and national law".

While Downing Street said Boris Johnson remains confident the policy is legal.

Protesters formed a human chain across the road.
Protesters formed a human chain across the road. Picture: Twitter/Stop Deportations
Some protesters involved covered themselves with banners
Some protesters involved covered themselves with banners. Picture: Twitter/Stop Deportations

It comes after protesters from Stop Deportations laid down to form a human chain on the road outside Colnbrook detention centre on Tuesday evening, in a bid to prevent the controversial flight going ahead.

They locked themselves together using metal pipes to blockade the exit intended to take the migrants to the airport.

In a tweet during the demonstrations, the campaign group said: "We reject this & every racist deportation."

It later added: "Together we can resist this brutal regime!!"

Dozens of police officers were pictured at the scene as well as around 20 police vans.

The Met confirmed that two protesters had been arrested during the disruption.

A statement read: "Police were called at 17:12hrs on Tuesday, 14 June to reports of a group of protesters blocking the A4 Colnbrook Bypass.

"Officers remain at the scene and road closures are in place.

"Two people have been arrested."

Asylum seekers are believed to have arrived at RAF Boscombe in Wiltshire.
Asylum seekers are believed to have arrived at RAF Boscombe in Wiltshire. Picture: LBC

The plane - a Boeing 767-300ER - has a capacity of 326 passengers, one of the most in the class.

As a result, the development has raised questions over value for money, as well as the carbon footprint of the aircraft.

The average hourly rental rate of the plane is around $22,900 per hour.

According to Skyscanner, a commercial flight to Rwanda takes nearly nine hours, meaning a return journey for the aircraft could cost upwards of $366,000 - around £302,300.

LBC's Nick Ferrari put the question of economic efficiency to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Tuesday morning, asking whether the cost of around £70,000 a head for the flight today is "value for money".

Liz Truss replied: “What you’ve got to look at Nick, is the overall cost of illegal immigration and the cost to human life and the cost to the British economy of these illegal immigration routes.

"That’s what you’ve got to weigh up the costs against.

"We need to make sure that if people aren’t on today’s flight, that they are on subsequent flights."

Read more: 'It’s the Government’s job': PM hits back at Charles in Rwanda migrants flights row

Read more: James O'Brien blasts Rwanda refugee scheme for appealing to 'vile racists'

The UK's plan to send migrants to Rwanda has been heavily criticised, including by a group of senior Bishops who said it "shamed" Britain.

But Ms Truss hit back, saying the Government is not immoral but "people traffickers are".

"I do not agree that assessment at all. We are carrying out this policy that will deal with the appalling people trafficking that is taking place and those are the people that are immoral," she said.

"It’s people who are selling a future dream and are meanwhile hurting people, causing them to lose their lives on the English Channel.

"Those are the people that are immoral and that is why we are pursuing this policy of being able to take people to Rwanda for a safer future whilst at the same time deterring the activities of these illegal people traffickers."

The Foreign Secretary insisted the government "are treating people with fairness and compassion", adding "they will be treated well" in Rwanda.

Over one hundred people who have sought asylum in the UK, including people who have fled Syria, Sudan, Eritrea, Iran and Iraq, have been issued with removal notices following the signing of a £120 million agreement between the UK and Rwandan Governments in April.

Boris Johnson on Monday defended his plans to send migrants to Rwanda after reported criticism from the Prince of Wales, who is understood to have privately condemned the plans, labelling them as "appalling".

A Clarence House spokesman did not deny that Charles was opposed to the policy, but said: "We would not comment on supposed anonymous private conversations with the Prince of Wales, except to restate that he remains politically neutral.

"Matters of policy are decisions for Government."