The home secretary said she would “not be deterred” after the European Court of Human Rights intervened to block the deportation of UK-based asylum seekers
The home secretary said she would “not be deterred from doing the right thing” even though all migrants were removed from the plane, which was due to take off on Tuesday evening (June 14).
The ECtHR confirmed that it had issued an urgent interim measure in relation to an Iraqi national and the Court is understood to have examined a number of other applications.
British courts, including the High Court, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, had all failed to block the flight before take-off, with the ECtHR being the final court of appeal for lawyers representing the asylum-seekers at risk of deportation.
The appeals were reportedly examined by an after-hours judge, who overruled the UK judgments, and at this point it is understood there is no way for the Home Office to appeal the decision.
The European Court of Justice has told the UK government that the Iraqi national should not be deported to Rwanda until three weeks after the final domestic decision has been served in its ongoing judicial review process.
What did Priti Patel say?
Ms Patel described the ECtHR’s intervention as “very surprising”, adding that “many of those who have been removed from this flight will be transferred to the next”.
She said the Home Office legal team is reviewing “every decision made on this flight” and preparation for the next flight is “starting now”.
After the flight landed on Tuesday evening, Ms Patel said: “Earlier this year I signed a world-leading migration partnership with Rwanda to ensure those entering the UK dangerously, illegally or needlessly are relocated to stay there build their life.
“This will help disrupt the human smugglers’ business model and prevent loss of life while ensuring the protection of those truly vulnerable.”
“Access to the UK asylum system must be based on need, not ability to pay people smugglers. The demands of the current system, the costs to the taxpayer and the flagrant abuses are increasing and the British public is rightly fed up with it.
“I have always said this policy will not be easy to deliver and I am disappointed that legal challenges and last minute demands resulted in today’s flight not being able to depart.
“It is very surprising that, despite repeated previous successes, the European Court of Human Rights has intervened in our national courts.
“These repeated legal obstacles are similar to those we experience on other relocation flights and many of those removed from this flight will be relocated to the next.
“We will not let this stop us from doing the right thing and implementing our plans to control our country’s borders. Our legal team is reviewing every decision made on this flight and preparations for the next flight are now beginning.”
Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo added: “We are not deterred by these developments.
“Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work. The current situation of people making dangerous journeys cannot continue as it is causing untold suffering to so many people.
“Rwanda is ready to receive the migrants upon their arrival and offer them security and opportunities in our country.”
Government ‘not deterred’ by its policies
Earlier, Boris Johnson suggested that lawyers representing migrants “support the work of criminal gangs” as final court hearings took place, insisting that the government, despite criticism from the Church of England and allegedly not from the Church of England either Prince of Wales would be prevented from pursuing their politics.
Mr Johnson acknowledged the plan had drawn criticism from “some somewhat unexpected quarters” but singled out the legal profession as the main source of opposition to the Rwanda policy, which will send asylum seekers on a one-way trip to the African nation.
As of early Tuesday night, only seven people should be on board the plane, following a series of legal challenges and Home Office investigations.
Enver Solomon, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said: “While we are relieved to hear that tonight’s flight to Rwanda did not take off as planned, it is clear that the Government remains committed to moving forward with this deal – allowing us to continue.” Witnessing human suffering, hardship and chaos will bring the threat of removal with far-reaching consequences for desperate people who simply need safety.
“The fact that the last flight failed to take off shows the inhumanity of the plan and the government’s utter refusal to see the face behind the case.”
The deportation plan has been condemned as “immoral” by opposition parties, with both the Archbishops of Canterbury and York saying it “shames Britain”.
But the Government has insisted the policy is necessary to tackle the activities of human trafficking gangs and is in line with Britain’s national and international obligations.
In a letter to the Times, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said the controversial policy “should shame us as a nation”.
It said: “The shame is on us, for our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have done for centuries.
“This immoral policy puts Britain to shame.”
The letter was also signed by the Bishops of London, Durham, Exeter, Birmingham and Manchester.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss hit back at criticism from the Church of England and insisted Rwanda’s flight policy was “entirely moral”.
Asked about criticism from senior bishops, she told Sky News: “I do not agree, the people who are immoral in this case are the traffickers who deal in human misery.
“These people need to propose an alternative policy that works. Our policy is perfectly legal, it’s perfectly moral.
“What I say to the policy critics who have no alternative to how we are dealing with this illegal migration is that they have no alternative, they are criticizing our policies, which are effective and working.”