First Rwanda flight expected to go ahead after injunction to stop it taking off fails

The decision paves the way for the first flight to take off next Tuesday

Published Last updated

A High Court judge has refused to grant an injunction to halt a flight expected to deport dozens of people to Rwanda on Tuesday.

Migrants due to be given a one-way ticket to the east African nation as part of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s bid to curb Channel crossings, as well as campaign groups and a union, had asked judges to block their upcoming deportation flight.

Up to 130 people had been notified they could be removed.

The court heard 31 people were due on the first flight on Tuesday, with the Home Office planning to schedule more this year.

A High Court judge has refused to grant an injunction to halt the first Rwanda flight
A High Court judge has refused to grant an injunction to halt the first Rwanda flight

Lawyers for almost 100 migrants had submitted legal challenges asking to stay in the UK with the remaining anticipated to follow suit.

The first stage of action was brought on Friday by lawyers on behalf of two migrants alongside the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), which represents more than 80 percent of Border Force staff, as well as groups Care4Calais and Detention Action who are challenging the policy on behalf of everyone affected.

Judge Mr Justice Swift ruled against the claim and said: “I do not consider that the balance of convivence favours the grant of the generic relief.”

Shortly after the judgment was concluded, Mr Swift granted the claimants permission to appeal, suggesting Court of Appeal judges would hear the case on Monday.

Mr Swift also denied interim relief to two people who face removal to Rwanda.

“I accept that the fact of removal to Rwanda will be onerous,” the judge said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I welcome the court’s decision in our favour, and will now continue to deliver on progressing our world-leading migration partnership.

“People will continue to try and prevent their relocation through legal challenges and last-minute claims, but we will not be deterred in breaking the deadly people smuggling trade and ultimately saving lives.

“Rwanda is a safe country and has previously been recognised for providing a safe haven for refugees – we will continue preparations for the first flight to Rwanda, alongside the range of other measures intended to reduce small boat crossings.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel

Sonya Sceats, chief executive of the charity Freedom From Torture, said she was "disappointed" but that the "fight is far from over".

She said: “We are disappointed that the court did not grant this injunction to ensure that nobody is sent to Rwanda before Boris Johnson’s cruel policy can be subjected to proper legal scrutiny.

“But the fight is far from over. Caring people across Britain are incensed that this Government wants to send people seeking safety halfway across the world and are taking action.

“The public have sent over 15,000 letters to airlines suspected of involvement in removals calling on them to rule themselves out, and protests are being planned up and down the country.

“We will use every available means to see that this neo-colonial ‘cash for humans’ scheme scrapped and ensure that the UK is a safe place for people fleeing war, torture and persecution.”

While Enver Soloman, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “We are disappointed about today’s result, and it is extremely worrying that despite these legal challenges and widespread concern, the Government remain determined to press ahead with the removal of people to Rwanda as soon as next week.

“The Government are refusing to see the face behind the case. We have already had to directly intervene to stop young people being deported to Rwanda because they were falsely assessed as adults. We fear this is a threat to many more young people who are being wrongly held in detention, putting them at great risk.

“These are vulnerable people and scared children who are alone, many of whom have undertaken perilous journeys to come to the UK in hope of safety. No one risks their own, or family’s, life unless they are running from dangers more acute than they face on these journeys.

“Government claims that this deal would act as a deterrent to end the model of people-traffickers, have already been disproven with the numbers of people travelling across the channel since the announcement was made almost doubling on the same time last year. We always knew these measures would do little to stop desperate people making dangerous journeys to the UK, because they do absolutely nothing to address the reasons people come.

“We do however know from our work directly with those impacted that they are just causing more human suffering, destress and chaos with far reaching consequences for vulnerable people who are simply in desperate need for safety.

“The Government must reflect on the initial failures of this plan, and rethink by looking to operating an orderly, humane, and fair asylum system.”