Rwanda deportation: will asylum seekers flight from UK go ahead, and what happened at the Court of Appeal?

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A flight to Rwanda with 11 migrants is due to go ahead on Tuesday despite legal challenges to the plan

Court of Appeal judges have rejected a last-ditch legal bid to block a flight due to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister has said the Government had anticipated “a lot of teething problems” with the policy, but said the move is necessary to stop illegal people-smuggling rackets on either side of the Channel.

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The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), which represents more than 80% of Border Force staff, and charities Care4Calais and Detention Action had gone to the Court of Appeal after the High Court’s ruling on Friday that the first flight to the east African country can go ahead.

Lawyers for the three groups and one person due to be removed are asking for an interim block on removing the now -11 people due on Tuesday’s flight until the full hearing of whether the policy is lawful next month.

Meanwhile, a second legal challenge against the plan by charity Asylum Aid was also dismissed on Monday.

Protesters outside the High Court in London for the ruling on Rwanda deportation flights. Protesters outside the High Court in London for the ruling on Rwanda deportation flights.
Protesters outside the High Court in London for the ruling on Rwanda deportation flights. | PA

What happened at the hearing?

Raza Husain QC argued that the judge who refused to block the flight on Friday, Mr Justice Swift, had wrongly decided the “balance of convenience”.

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But, following an urgent hearing in London on Monday, three senior judges dismissed the appeal, saying there was no error in the decision of Mr Justice Swift.

Lord Justice Singh, sitting with Lady Justice Simler and Lord Justice Stuart-Smith, said Mr Justice Swift had “conducted the balancing exercise properly” and did not err in principle nor in the approach he took.

He added: “He weighed all the factors and reached a conclusion which he was reasonably entitled to reach on the material before him.

“This court cannot therefore interfere with that conclusion.”

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The judges refused permission for an appeal to the Supreme Court against their decision.

Demonstrators protest outside the Home Office in London against plans to send migrants to Rwanda.Demonstrators protest outside the Home Office in London against plans to send migrants to Rwanda.
Demonstrators protest outside the Home Office in London against plans to send migrants to Rwanda. | PA

What’s been said on behalf on the Government?

The Home Office has defended the policy and the Prime Minister has said the Government had anticipated “a lot of teething problems” with the policy, but said the move is necessary to stop illegal people-smuggling rackets on either side of the Channel.

Rory Dunlop QC, for the department, told the court earlier on Monday: “The flight tomorrow is important.

“This is a policy which is intended to deter dangerous and unnecessary journeys, journeys from safe third countries by people who do not need to make that journey to be safe, they can claim in France or wherever it is.

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“This is a policy that if it works, could save lives as well as disrupting the model of traffickers.

“Even if we are just talking about cancelling a flight tomorrow, there is prejudice to the public interest, to the enactment of decisions that may have that deterrent effect.”

The High Court heard the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, has multiple concerns about the system in Rwanda, including discriminatory access to asylum, a lack of legal representation and other “deep-rooted structural problems”.

On Monday, Mr Dunlop said: “The Secretary of State has listened and seriously considered the concerns raised by the UNHCR and has deliberately negotiated arrangements to provide assurances in relation to those concerns.”

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Was there another legal challenge being heard?

A second case was also heard in the High Court on Monday afternoon after Asylum Aid, a refugee charity, applied for an urgent interim injunction to stop the Government flying migrants to Rwanda.

However, a High Court judge has dismissed the challenge to the Government plan.

Charity Asylum Aid, which provides legal advice to asylum seekers, had asked Mr Justice Swift to temporarily block ministers from enforcing the removal of “any asylum seeker” to Rwanda.

Lawyers for Asylum Aid, which had taken legal action against Home Secretary Priti Patel, argued on Monday that the procedure was unfair.

Mr Justice Swift ruled against the charity after considering the challenge at a High Court hearing in London.

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