Priti Patel says ‘absolutely scandalous’ decision to ground flight was politically motivated

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday granted an injunction that resulted in a chartered flight being grounded

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The “absolutely scandalous” European court decision which effectively grounded the first flight to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was politically motivated, according to the Home Secretary.

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday granted an injunction that resulted in a chartered aircraft to Kigali being unable to depart Wiltshire.

“You’ve got to look at the motivation,” Priti Patel told The Daily Telegraph.

“How and why did they make that decision? Was it politically motivated? I’m of the view that it is, absolutely.

“The opaque way this court has operated is absolutely scandalous. That needs to be questioned.

“We don’t know who the judges are, we don’t know who the panel are, we haven’t actually had a judgment – just a press release and a letter saying we can’t move this person under rule 39.

“They’ve not used this ruling previously, which does make you question the motivation and the lack of transparency.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks during a statement on Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda in London
Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks during a statement on Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda in London

The last-ditch legal rulings sparked calls by some Tory MPs to pull Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights which the court rules on, though it appears the Government is not willing to take such a drastic step.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has suggested the UK will stay within the convention but new laws could ensure that interim measures from the Strasbourg court could effectively be ignored by the Government.

A Boeing 767 aircraft at MoD Boscombe Down, near Salisbury, which is believed to be the plane set to take asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda. Picture date: Tuesday June 14, 2022.
A Boeing 767 aircraft at MoD Boscombe Down, near Salisbury, which is believed to be the plane set to take asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda. Picture date: Tuesday June 14, 2022.

The grounding of the flight came after a series of legal challenges in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and ECHR on behalf of the asylum seekers due to be sent on the one-way trip to the east African nation.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly hit out at those bringing the legal challenges, accusing them of “abetting” criminal gangs.

The lawyers, meanwhile, have reportedly received death threats.

The court battles mean there is uncertainty over when any further attempts to fly asylum seekers to the African country will be made, although Ms Patel has previously said the Government “will not be deterred from doing the right thing, we will not be put off by the inevitable last-minute legal challenges”.