Criminals with convictions for rape and manslaughter are among the violent and sexual offenders who were spared deportation to Jamaica after a British court backed a challenge brought by left-wing activists and had them removed from a deportation flight.
Dozens of Jamaican-born criminals were pulled off the deportation flight before it left from London on Tuesday after a judicial review blocked their removal. In all, 17 criminals were deported, but 25 were removed from the flight.
The Home Office said the Appeals Court decision prevented the removal of criminals convicted of “rape, sexual attacks, violence and drug crimes.” The Times of London reported those allowed to remain included a man who stabbed a father to death outside a pub, and a man jailed for raping a teenager and abducting another.
The prime minister’s official spokesman told The Daily Telegraph the offenses of those allowed to stay include one manslaughter, one firearms offense, seven violent offenses, two that were in the category of rape or sexual offenses and 14 drug offenses.
“We bitterly regret this decision which prevents the removal from our country of foreign criminals convicted of rape, manslaughter, sexual attacks, violence and drug crimes, which spread misery across our communities,” the spokesman said.
Judges backed a challenge by activists who claimed that some of the offenders had been unable to receive proper legal advice because of a lack of cellphone coverage for certain networks. The Home Office rejected this claim, saying those due to be removed had “ample access” to other methods of communication, including alternative mobile SIM cards, landline and Internet access, and face-to-face legal consultations.
Activists and left-wing members of parliament (MP) had also argued that while they were foreign nationals, many of them had lived in the U.K. since they were children and therefore should be treated like British nationals. Labour MP Diane Abbott said there was concern that the deportations “constitutes double jeopardy because the persons have already served an appropriate sentence for their crime.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the decision to deport them this week, when he told the House of Commons it is “entirely right that foreign national offenders should be deported from this country in accordance with the law.”
“We make no apology whatsoever for seeking to remove dangerous foreign criminals,” the Home Office said in a statement. “We will be urgently pursuing the removal of those who were prevented from boarding the flight due to a legal challenge over a mobile network failure.”
The Home Office, instead, drew attention to those who had been removed by highlighting that the 17 criminals who were deported had a combined sentence of 75 years, including 15.5 years for rape, 16 years for violent offenses, 14 years for robbery with possession of a firearm and nearly 29 years for drug offenses.
Activists and lawmakers had compared the flights to the Windrush scandal — whereby many who had arrived in the U.K. from Caribbean countries decades ago were deported despite having the legal right to stay in the U.K.
But government ministers have noted that those deported under the Windrush scandal had not done anything wrong and had their documentation destroyed by the then-government, while Tuesday’s deportation flight involved were all foreign national offenders.