Over 230 migrants land on UK shores in one day as Rwanda flight delayed 'up to a year'

16 June 2022, 02:03 | Updated: 16 June 2022, 10:18

Deportation flights to Rwanda face delays of up to a year
Deportation flights to Rwanda face delays of up to a year. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Over 230 migrants crossed the English Channel yesterday, as ministers were warned that deportation flights to Rwanda may face delays of up to a year because of injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights.

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Warm weather and low winds provided ideal crossing conditions in recent days.

Six boats were intercepted in the Channel and 233 people were rescued and brought ashore on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Read more: Boris refuses to rule out leaving European human rights treaty after Rwanda fight

Read more: 'No migrants in Rwanda by Christmas': Raab won't guarantee when first refugee may land

It comes after the first deportation flight to Rwanda was stopped from taking off on Tuesday night after a last-minute ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.

The flight was previously given the green light by both the UK's High Court and Court of Appeal.

Ministers have since been warned it could take up to a year for the first flight to depart.

Dominic Raab is said to be looking into whether it will be possible to disregard the rulings from the Strasbourg court in cases already examined by British judges.

ECHR 'thwarted' will of British people

A government source told the Telegraph that the three-week delay could be critical in allowing time for an appeal to be lodged with the European court if ministers won the judicial review.

"The Strasbourg court would be motivated to protect its process by a similar injunction preventing the flights until the case was resolved, which could take a year or more," said the source.

The warning was previously laid out by leading constitutional lawyers including Richard Ekins, Oxford University's professor of law and constitutional government, and ex-mandarin Sir Stephen Laws, a former parliamentary counsel who prepared government legislation

Read more: Andrew Marr: Rwanda scheme designed to get people 'worked up' and make us choose sides

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

"If the Supreme Court in the end upholds the lawfulness of removal to Rwanda, it is of course entirely conceivable – indeed probable – that the [European court] will make further interim measures restricting removals to Rwanda until the [court] has itself had time to hold a hearing and to make its own decision," they said in a paper for Policy Exchange.

"What this means is that, if the UK complies and if the [European court] – as it routinely does – takes its time then the Government’s Rwanda policy may not go ahead for years.

"That would effectively end it."

Rwanda deportations a 'disaster in the making'

However, a government source told the Daily Mail that the ECHR's injunctions were "not binding", claiming many signatories routinely turned a blind eye to its rulings.

"Pulling out of the ECHR completely would be a massive call, but there is scope for looking again at how we treat out-of-hours injunctions from Strasbourg," the source said.

"People talk about the UK's role in creating the court after the Second World War and that is right.

"But the way that charter has been interpreted in recent years has become very elastic and taken it a long way from its original aims."

Govt "disappointed" Rwanda migrant flight halted

Boris Johnson refused to rule out completely leaving the treaty on Wednesday, with Downing Street saying "all options are on the table" following the intervention.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was "disappointed" with the outcome on Tuesday but remained determined to see the plans through.

The grounded Rwanda deportation flight
The grounded Rwanda deportation flight. Picture: Getty

A 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."

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