Priti Patel preparing for next Rwanda deportation flight despite last-minute grounding by European Court

The Home Secretary said she will “not be deterred” after the European Court of Human Rights intervened to block the deportation of UK-based asylum seekers

Priti Patel says preparation for the next deportation flight of UK-based asylum seekers to Rwanda “begins now” after last-minute interventions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) led to the initial flight being cancelled.

The Home Secretary said she will “not be deterred from doing the right thing” despite all migrants being removed from the plane that was due to take off on Tuesday (14 June) night.

Protesters chant and hold placards against the UK deportation flights to Rwanda (Photo: Getty Images)Protesters chant and hold placards against the UK deportation flights to Rwanda (Photo: Getty Images)
Protesters chant and hold placards against the UK deportation flights to Rwanda (Photo: Getty Images)

The ECHR confirmed it had granted an urgent interim measure in regards to an Iraqi national, and it is understood the Court was considering a number of further requests.

UK courts, including the High Court, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, had all failed to block the flight before takeoff, with the ECHR being the last line of appeal for lawyers representing the asylum seekers at threat of being deported.

The appeals were reportedly considered by an out-of-hours judge on papers, overruling the UK rulings, and at the present time, it is understood that there is not a route for the Home Office to appeal against the decision.

The European Court has indicated to the UK government that the Iraqi national should not be removed to Rwanda until three weeks after the delivery of the final domestic decision in his ongoing judicial review proceedings.

What has Priti Patel said?

Ms Patel described the ECHR intervention as “very surprising”, adding that “many of those removed from this flight will be placed on the next”.

She said the Home Office legal team is reviewing “every decision made on this flight”, and that preparation for the next flight “begins now”.

Following the grounding of the flight on Tuesday night, Ms Patel said: “Earlier this year, I signed a world-leading Migration Partnership with Rwanda to see those arriving dangerously, illegally, or unnecessarily into the UK relocated to build their lives there.

“This will help break the people smugglers’ business model and prevent loss of life, while ensuring protection for the genuinely vulnerable.

“Access to the UK’s asylum system must be based on need, not on the ability to pay people smugglers. The demands on the current system, the cost to the taxpayer, and the flagrant abuses are increasing, and the British public have rightly had enough.

“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.”

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.

“Rwanda stands ready to receive the migrants when they do arrive and offer them safety and opportunity in our country.”

Government ‘not deterred’ from its policy

Earlier, Boris Johnson suggested lawyers representing migrants were “abetting the work of criminal gangs” as last-ditch court hearings took place, and insisted the government would not be deterred from its policy, despite criticism from the Church of England and reportedly also from the Prince of Wales.

Mr Johnson acknowledged there had been criticism of the plan from “some slightly unexpected quarters” but highlighted 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 things stood early on Tuesday evening, just seven people were due to be on board the plane following a string of legal challenges and Home Office reviews.

Refugee Council chief executive Enver Solomon said: “Whilst we are relieved to hear the flight to Rwanda did not take off as planned tonight, it is clear that the government remain determined to press on with this deal – leaving us to continue to witness the human suffering, distress, and chaos the threat of removal will cause with far reaching consequences for desperate people who are simply in need of safety.

“The fact that the final flight could not take off is indicative of the inhumanity of the plan and the government’s complete 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”.

However, the government has insisted the policy is necessary to tackle the activities of human trafficking gangs and was compliant with Britain’s national and international obligations.

In a letter to The Times, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, said the controversial policy “should shame us as a nation.”

It said: “The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries.

“This immoral policy shames Britain.”

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 the Rwanda flights policy is “completely moral”.

Asked about criticism from senior bishops, she told Sky News: “I don’t agree with that, the people who are immoral in this case are the people traffickers trading in human misery.

“Those people need to suggest an alternative policy that will work. Our policy is completely legal, it’s completely moral.

“What I’m saying to the critics of the policy who don’t have an alternative about how we deal with this illegal migration, is they don’t have an alternative, they are criticising our policy which is effective and does work.”