Court of Appeal judges give go ahead for flight to Rwanda

Court of Appeal judges give go ahead for first flight taking migrants to Rwanda to depart tomorrow – but just EIGHT asylum seekers are set to be on board because of legal challenges

  • Lord Justice Singh said High Court judge did not make any errors in his decision
  • Flight will almost certainly now go ahead, although not clear how many on board
  • Around 100 people originally notified, but legal challenges whittled this down

Court of Appeal judges today rejected a last-ditch legal bid to block a flight due to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda tomorrow – but just eight asylum seekers are set to be on board due to legal challenges. 

The news means the flight will almost certainly go ahead, although a legal challenge from the individuals due to be on board is still pending and it is unclear how many will actually end up travelling. 

Around 100 people were originally notified they were due for deportation under the policy, dropping to 31 on Friday after a wave of litigation and the total now into single digits. 

Raza Husain QC argued that the judge who refused to block the flight on Friday, Mr Justice Swift, had made mistakes in the way he handled the evidence presented to him.

But, following an urgent hearing in London today, three senior judges dismissed the appeal, saying there was no error in his decision.

Detainees at the Brook House Detention Centre at Gatwick airport today ahead of the Rwanda Asylum flight tomorrow

Brook House – pictured today – is privately operated by Serco on behalf of the Home Office 

Migrants waved at photographers from behind the metal fences surrounding the centre 

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.’

Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg said the Court of Appeal was emphatic in backing the way High Court judge Mr Justice Swift had handled the case. 

‘Lord Justice Singh and the two judges sitting with him concluded he had considered the evidence and had not got anything wrong,’ he told Sky News. 

‘Since he had taken the decision the Court of Appeal was not prepared to interfere.’ 

Mr Rozenberg said Appeal judges also rejected campaigners’ arguments that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda could be returned to their home countries and face persecution.   

‘That argument didn’t seem to cut much ice at the Court of Appeal and for that reason as well the judge turned that down,’ he said.   

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.  

Priti Patel – pictured at the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations – is seeking to defend her flagship policy against a raft of legal challenges 

Boris takes a swipe at Prince Charles over his Rwanda migrant flight row criticism 

Boris Johnson took a thinly-veiled swipe at Prince Charles today as he defended plans to send Channel migrants to Rwanda.

The PM hit out at ‘very active lawyers’ who have been trying to block the government from deporting the first batch to the African country.

Repeatedly asked about the Prince of Wales’s apparent view that the proposals are ‘appalling’, Mr Johnson insisted they were essential to ‘break the business model’ of people-smugglers.

Without directly criticising the heir to the throne, the premier said pointedly: ‘What I don’t think we should support is continued activity by criminal gangs.’

He added on LBC: ‘I do think that it’s the job of Government to stop people breaking the law and to support people who are doing the right thing; that’s what we are doing.’

The Mail revealed over the weekend that Prince Charles has privately condemned the Rwanda asylum plan, saying giving Channel migrants a one-way ticket to Africa was ‘appalling’. Clarence House has stressed that the royal is politically neutral.

Downing Street later said Boris Johnson has ‘nothing but respect and admiration’ for the Prince of Wales after he reportedly criticised the Rwanda policy.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister has nothing but respect and admiration for the Prince of Wales, who’s spoken out on a number of issues, not least the environment.’ 

Rory Dunlop QC, for the department, told the court earlier today: ‘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.

‘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’.

Today, 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.’

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

Ahead of both hearings today, Mr Johnson told broadcasters during a visit to a farm in Cornwall: ‘I always said that it will begin with a lot of teething problems and you will have a lot of legal action against it and they will try and delay it – that’s inevitable.

‘But what we’re trying to do is stop the business model of criminal gangs who are preying on people moving them across the Channel in unseaworthy vessels, risking their lives and sometimes costing their lives.’

Asked if the policy will be worth it if it results in just one person being removed, Mr Johnson told LBC: ‘I think it’s very important that the criminal gangs who are putting people’s lives at risk in the Channel is going to be broken – is being broken – by this Government.

‘They are selling people a false hope, they are luring them into something extremely risky and criminal.’   

Protesters outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London today for the ruling on Rwanda deportation flights


Repeatedly asked about the Prince of Wales’s (left) apparent view that the proposals are ‘appalling’, Boris Johnson (right in Cornwall today) insisted they were essential to ‘break the business model’ of people-smugglers

Lawyers acting on behalf of the migrants slated to be sent to Rwanda are said either to have lodged legal appeals or warned they would do so today.

‘We are getting claims from every single one,’ a source said. ‘In many cases they are making multiple claims under various bits of the Human Rights Act and modern slavery legislation. Over the weekend there have been new claims every hour and we expect more right up to when the flight goes.

‘We will operate the flight even if there is just one person on it, but there is a real prospect that even that might not be possible.’ 

Home Office sources said human rights lawyers had tabled a ‘deluge’ of legal claims on behalf of 31 individuals due to be deported tomorrow

Under the terms of the deal with Rwanda, those crossing the Channel illegally risk being given a one-way ticket to Kigali where they will have the chance to claim asylum in the African state.

Former security minister Sir John Hayes said it was ‘ethically the right thing to do, as well as being in line with public demands to take back control of our borders’.

‘I am sick to death of deranged do-gooders and fat cat lawyers frustrating government policy and the interests of the nation,’ said Sir John, who chairs the Common Sense Group of Tory MPs. ‘If we end up in a farcical situation where no one is allowed to get on a flight declared lawful by the courts because of spurious human rights challenges then we will have to repeal the Human Rights Act.

‘We are already committed to reforming it and we may need to go further. Every major policy this Government tries to pursue is getting caught up by the long tail of Blairism through legislation like the Human Rights Act.’

Revealed: The piously lefty cabal who fought so hard to ground a jet of Channel migrants bound for Rwanda 

By David Wilkes for the Daily Mail  

A collection of Left-wing groups have made legal challenges in a bid to block ministers’ plan to send migrants to Rwanda. They are represented by lawyers who in many cases have links to the Labour Party and a lengthy record of bringing cases against the Government.

MATRIX CHAMBERS

Barristers from the trendy London human rights chambers – co-founded by Cherie Blair – represented the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, Care4Calais and Detention Action yesterday.

One was top QC Raza Husain, who last month retweeted a message by Labour MP Chris Bryant criticising Boris Johnson’s response to Partygate that said: ‘Downing Street under him has been a cesspit of arrogant, entitled narcissists.’ Mrs Blair left the chambers in 2014.

LEIGH DAY

A separate challenge to the Rwanda policy by charity Asylum Aid, due to be heard in court on Monday, was lodged by law firm Leigh Day, which was accused of being behind a ‘witch-hunt’ of British troops in Iraq.

The firm and three of its solicitors – including senior partner Martyn Day – were cleared of a string of misconduct allegations following a disciplinary hearing in 2017. They had been charged by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority after the Ministry of Defence submitted a lengthy dossier of alleged wrongdoing, including claims they caused innocent troops years of torment.

Leigh Day worked with Birmingham solicitor Phil Shiner to represent Iraqi clients in parallel legal actions. Mr Shiner was struck off as a solicitor for dishonesty over his handling of war-crime allegations against the Army.

The thwarted lefty cabal that tried to stop the Rwandan flight include the former Labor Prime Minister’s wife, Cherie Blair

DOUGHTY STREET

Asylum Aid’s legal team also includes several barristers from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s former chambers, Doughty Street.

They include leading human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy QC, who has been an active and outspoken Labour peer since entering the House of Lords as Baroness Kennedy after the general election in 1997. It is also where Amal Clooney, the lawyer wife of film star George, practises.

Robert Latham, who retains an associate tenancy at Doughty Street, supported Sir Keir’s leadership campaign with a donation of £100,000.

DUNCAN LEWIS SOLICITORS

Acting for the PCS union, Care 4 Calais and Detention Action, Duncan Lewis has a long track record of bringing challenges against government immigration measures.

In 2020, The Mail on Sunday revealed the firm had received £55 million in legal aid from the British taxpayer in just three years. The paper also told how the company’s staff have travelled to Calais and offered support to refugees hoping to reach Britain.

Owned by entrepreneur Amarpal Singh Gupta, who has been dubbed ‘Britain’s legal aid king’, the firm has forged a close relationship with charities that work among refugee camps on the French coast. Staff have also reportedly boasted of mixing with senior Labour Party figures, including deputy leader Angela Rayner and foreign spokesman David Lammy.

DETENTION ACTION

Bella Sankey, director of campaign group Detention Action, is a former would-be Labour MP endorsed by Sir Keir. Like the Labour leader many years before, Miss Sankey previously worked at Liberty, the campaign group for civil liberties which has long been a recruiting ground for Labour politicians.

PUBLIC AND COMMERCIAL SERVICES UNION

The union’s firebrand general secretary Mark Serwotka was kicked out of the Labour Party in 1992 for being a member of the Trotskyist group Socialist Organiser. In 2016, he rejoined Labour, saying his long-time friend Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership offered a ‘genuine break from the past’. In recent years, he has called for a General Strike to ‘bring the Tories down’.

CARE4CALAIS

The charity was at the centre of a scandal in 2017 when it emerged its married founder Clare Moseley, a former accountant and then 46, had a year-long affair with Mohamed Bajjar, then 27. He had falsely claimed to be a Syrian refugee, but was in reality a Tunisian market-stall trader married to another British woman.

The charity is currently embroiled in a Charity Commission inquiry over ‘serious governance concerns’.

ASYLUM AID

Its Cambridge-educated director Alison Pickup leads a team providing legal representation to asylum seekers and refugees. She was previously legal director of the Public Law Project – and before that had a practice at Doughty Street Chambers, where she specialised in immigration, asylum and migrants’ rights in the context of unlawful detention, community care, asylum support and access to justice.

Among her achievements, Doughty Street Chambers’ website lists her as having been junior counsel in ‘two of the leading challenges to the legal aid cuts’.

One was the successful challenge to the proposed ‘residence test’ for legal aid, the other established that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to respect for private and family life – may require legal aid to be provided in immigration cases. 

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