Another blow for Rwanda migrant plan: Asylum-seekers earmarked for deportation could be released in Britain if Priti Patel loses court battle
- Up to 130 foreign nationals have been held in immigration detention centres
- Home Secretary may be forced to release migrants if she loses court battle
- A coalition of charities and a trade union has applied for injunction to halt flight
Priti Patel may be forced to release migrants from detention if the first Rwanda charter flight is blocked by a series of legal challenges today.
Up to 130 foreign nationals who have been told they have been selected for the inaugural flight on Tuesday have been held in immigration detention centres to prevent them absconding.
But if legal action in the High Court is successful, even temporarily, they are likely to be freed and either fitted with electronic tags or ordered to regularly attend reporting centres.
Existing laws set out how foreign nationals can only be detained if there is a ‘realistic prospect’ of removing them from this country.
A coalition of charities and a trade union – which represents thousands of UK Border Force staff – has applied for an injunction to halt the flight. They are also seeking a judicial review of the policy in a case due for a preliminary hearing today.
Pictured: Sixteen migrants from Afghanistan on board a dinghy seen heading for the UK
The Home Secretary insists the £120million Rwanda deal will save lives in the Channel and help break human traffickers’ business model
Last night, yet more challenges were lodged by group Asylum Aid. It is seeking an urgent interim injunction by the High Court to stop any removal flights until a full judicial review of the policy has been carried out.
The Home Secretary insists the £120million Rwanda deal will save lives in the Channel and help break human traffickers’ business model.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said yesterday: ‘We remain confident in our position, should the legal challenges require us going to the courts we will argue our case.’
Tory MP Peter Bone, in the Commons, called for new legislation allowing deportations to Rwanda to be brought ‘immediately’ if measures are stopped by the courts. Commons Leader Mark Spencer said the Home Secretary remained ‘committed’ to tackling Channel smuggling.
The Public and Commercial Services union submitted an application for a High Court injunction alongside charities Care4Calais and Detention Action earlier this week.
The law firm acting for them, Duncan Lewis Solicitors, has a long track record of bringing challenges against government immigration measures.
Yesterday’s separate challenges by Asylum Aid were lodged by law firm Leigh Day, with a legal team featuring several barristers from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s former chambers, Doughty Street.
Set in a quiet suburb on the outskirts of the capital city, Kigali, the Desir Resort Hotel has a swimming pool, an outside bar and restaurant and spa facilities
The charity has asked judges to hear their claim alongside the case due to take place today.
Chief executive Kerry Smith said: ‘This Government’s attempt to punish vulnerable people seeking asylum because it doesn’t approve of the way they reached our shores is simply unlawful.’
The Law Society also made clear its opposition to Rwanda scheme yesterday. The solicitors’ professional body said the policy appeared to breach the Refugee Convention and the selection of migrants for the scheme may be ‘discriminatory’.
The asylum deal will see ‘irregular migrants’ – those who arrived by small boats or in the back of lorries – handed a one-way ticket to Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
They will claim asylum there instead of in the UK – with a support package from the British taxpayer. Some senior officials have privately conceded that the Rwanda policy is ‘novel and contentious’.