12:44, February 10 50 0 theguardian.com

2020-02-10 12:44:06
Judge refuses attempt to stop Home Office deportation fight

A high court judge has refused an emergency application to halt a charter flight scheduled to leave the UK on Tuesday with about 50 Jamaican-born people on board.

Mr Justice Mostyn refused an application from Duncan Lewis solicitors on behalf of 13 Jamaican-born men who are due to be put on the flight which is due to leave the UK at 6.30am.

The lawyers argued that Home Secretary Priti Patel has acted unlawfully by forcing the men onto the plane, has breached human rights legislation and denied them adequate access to legal advice. Their application to the high court to halt the flight added that the Home Office’s announcements in the media and in parliament about the charter flight will make the men being deported a ‘public spectacle’ if they are returned to Jamaica and place them at risk.

The grounds for the refusal have not yet been made public. Duncan Lewis is now making further emergency legal applications to try to halt the flight.

Some individuals due to fly have won the right to stay in the UK for the time being, after a separate application to the upper tribunal of the immigration chamber. They included Akeem Finlay, whose solicitor Naga Kandiah welcomed the court’s decision but condemned the Home Office’s plan to deport so many men who will leave partners and children behind. “It seems there is an inherent disregard for the integrity of the family unit and the welfare of children,” he said.

A second judicial review was lodged on behalf of the charity Detention Action. It follows the launch of the charity’s legal action against the Home Office last week, arguing that because the phone network for 02 has been down in the area immediately next to Colnbrook and Harmondsworth immigration removal centres near Heathrow, detainees have been denied the right to have five working days to contact and instruct lawyers after they received notice from the Home Office that they would be removed on Tuesday’s flight.

Rishi Sunak, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said those being forcibly removed had committed “very serious offences”. But 13 detainees due to board Tuesday’s flight described a range of less serious offences they had committed.

More than 150 cross-party MPs have called on Boris Johnson to halt the flight citing a range of concerns.

Toufique Hossain, director of Public Law at Duncan Lewis solicitors, said many of the people on the flight had lived in the UK for most of their lives and that there needed to be a proper overview and consideration given to how the Home Office approached such individuals.

Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said: “Our information indicates that most have been convicted of drugs-related offences – often only once – and several have been groomed into county lines operations.”

The Home Office has not responded to recommendations from the former prisons ombudsman Stephen Shaw or to a leak from the Windrush Lessons Learned review, which suggested that foreign national offenders who have lived in the UK for most of their lives should not face automatic deportation.

Last year the Guardian revealed that at least five men had been murdered after their deportation to Jamaica. One of the five was Dewayne Robinson, 37.

It has emerged that Robinson was the cousin of Akeem Finlay, 30, one of those who is facing enforced return to Jamaica on Tuesday after a GBH conviction. Finlay came to the UK at the age of 10 and now lives with his partner.

Months before Robinson’s murder on 4 March 2018 after his deportation from the UK, another of Finlay’s cousins was murdered. “The men involved in the murders of my cousins have warned our family not to return to Jamaica or we will be murdered too,” said Finlay.

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