The Home Office has defended its decision to deport 17 Jamaican convicts today after a court order banned the eviction of 25 other ‘serious criminals’.
A scheduled flight bound for Kingston this morning was left half-empty as Jamaican nationals convicted of severe offences including manslaughter and rape were permitted to stay in the UK on a legal technicality.
Last night, an eleventh-hour legal challenge by campaigners saw the Court of Appeal issue an order barring the deportation of more than half of those scheduled for today’s flight amid fears they were denied access to legal advice.
The Detention Action charity successfully argued offenders at two removal centres near Heathrow were unable to contact lawyers due to a lack of phone coverage for O2 users caused by a faulty phone mast.
This morning, Downing Street issued a strongly-worded statement defending its decision to ahead with the flight despite protests by campaigners overnight.
No 10 said it made ‘no apology for trying to protect the public from serious, violent and persistent foreign national offenders’.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman added: ‘There are 25 foreign national offenders who the court ruled could not be removed and are therefore still in the country.
‘The offences which these people were responsible for include one manslaughter, one firearms offence, seven violent offences, two which are in the category of rape or sexual offences and 14 drugs offences.’