The UK Home Office has proceeded with a planned deportation flight to Jamaica of detainees who have committed crimes despite some serving their sentences many years ago and not breaking the law since. Some had even arrived in the UK as children and now have little or no connection with Jamaica. This has led to mass outrage and protests.
The flight left on Tuesday despite a court of appeal judge ordering the Home Office not to deport many of the detainees amid concerns over their access to legal advice.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We make no apology for trying to protect the public from serious, violent and persistent foreign national offenders. The court ruling does not apply to all of the foreign national offenders due to be deported and we are therefore proceeding with the flight.”
It was unclear immediately how many people were on board the flight, but it is thought to be around 50.
On Monday night, a court of appeal judge ordered the Home Office not to carry out the scheduled deportation amid concerns mobile phone outages had prevented detainees from having access to legal advice.
Lady Justice Simler said those detainees should not be removed unless the Home Office was satisfied, they “had access to a functioning, non-O2 Sim card on or before Feb. 3.”
The action had been brought because there has been a problem with the O2 phone network in the Heathrow detention centres since last month, meaning many detainees had been unable to exercise their legal right to contact their lawyers.
The Home Office had argued the flight was “specifically for deporting foreign national offenders”, adding that “those detained for removal include people convicted of manslaughter, rape, violent crime and dealing class A drugs”. But some of those on the flight had been imprisoned for short terms and relatively minor offences.