Just seven migrants on flight to Rwanda despite rejection of last-ditch asylum appeal
It came after Court of Appeal judges rejected a last-ditch legal bid to block the first flight by charities Care4Calais and Detention Action and the Public and Commercial Services union, representing Border Force staff.
Lawyers for the three groups and one Iraqi migrant due to be removed asked for the injunction to ground the flight to Rwanda until the full hearing of whether the policy is lawful next month.
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”.
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.”
A second last-minute legal move for an injunction by Asylum Aid was also rejected on Monday by Mr Justice Swift. Charlotte Kilroy QC, for the charity, claimed the asylum seekers were “effectively guinea pigs” for a process which had not been properly tested.
Both courts effectively accepted the Government’s arguments that the Rwanda policy was justified in the public interest to deter migrants from making dangerous and unnecessary journeys across the Channel from third safe countries, where they could have claimed asylum.
‘Very active lawyers’
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, had earlier said he had expected “very active lawyers” to try to block the flight, but confirmed it would leave even if it took just one migrant to the African country.
He said: “We have always said that we knew that this policy would attract attacks from those who want to have a completely open-doors approach to immigration, who want people to be able to come across the Channel without let or hindrance.
“There are very active lawyers in this field. I have the utmost respect for the legal profession, but it is also important we stop criminal gangs.”
In the House of Commons, there were cheers from Tory MPs at the news of the court judgments. Peter Bone, the Conservative MP, urged ministers to overbook flights to counter the work of “Lefty lawyers.”
He said: “Instead of booking 50 people on each flight to Rwanda, book 250 people on it and then when they stop half of them from travelling, you still have a full flight. Come on, get on and send them!”