Author: Tanveer Mann
Five men due to be deported to Jamaica today have been granted last minute reprieves to remain in the UK, an immigration lawyer has said.
Up to 50 people, who are all foreign nationals with criminal convictions, were due to leave on a flight from an RAF base this morning.
Jacqueline McKenzie, a solicitor from McKenzie, Beute & Pope, said guards had begun picking up men at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook immigration removal centres in west London late on Tuesday night.
Ms McKenzie said she is in touch with lawyers working to keep five people in the UK.
She added: ‘We know that three of the men who are witnesses to the death of an inmate at Morton Hall Prison which houses immigration detainees and due to give evidence to an inquest hearing in March 2019 have also had last minute reprieves as has one of the people with a case pending with the Windrush Task Force.’
Rogols Solicitors, based in Birmingham, said on Twitter it had secured an injunction to stop the deportation of a fifth man, former soldier Twane Morgan, on Tuesday.
Mr Morgan, who arrived in the UK in 2003 from Jamaica, is the subject of an online petition to avoid deportation, which has reached more than 91,000 signatures.
He served in the British army, including two tours in Afghanistan, before being discharged with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 2007.
Mr Morgan was jailed for six years following a conviction in 2011, serving three years. He is said to have no relatives in Jamaica and has five children, and a British long-term partner.
The Government earlier confirmed a deportation flight was due to leave the UK at some point in the coming weeks, and said all of those due to be removed have criminal convictions.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘It is only right that we seek to deport foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes in the UK.
‘This ensures we keep the public safe. All individuals on this charter flight are serious criminals.’
This is believed to be the first chartered deportation flight to Jamaica since the Windrush scandal, and has been condemned by campaigners who have accused the Home Office of ‘ripping families apart’.
Ms McKenzie said: ‘We are shocked that the Government, not having received the conclusions of the Windrush Lessons Learnt Review should resume these mass deportation flights which were stayed in light of the Windrush scandal.’
She said chartered flights are ‘shrouded in secrecy’ and there was no ‘adequate mechanism’ to ensure those due to be on board received ‘quality and independent advice’.
‘The Government should stay this charter pending an urgent review of the policies and laws which drive us to deport people who do not pose any risks or threats to the UK and particularly those who have spent most of their lives in the UK,’ she added.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid earlier defended the deportation flight plans in the House of Commons.
Labour MP David Lammy asked Mr Javid whether he could be sure he was ‘not making the same mistakes’ as with Windrush, adding: ‘Once enslaved, then colonised, and now repatriated.’
The Home Secretary said the scheduled deportations were a charter flight ‘of foreign national offenders only’, and that ‘every single one of them [was] convicted of a serious crime’.