UK Fills 'Mass-Deportation' Plane with Foreign Criminals, Sends Them Packing
Home office deports convicted killers, rapists, drug dealers to Jamaica, despite protests
The UK government has rounded up a group of convicted killers, drug dealers, and rapists from the British prison system and put them on a one-way "mass-deportation" flight heading for Jamaica.
The Home Office has proceeded with the deportation of convicted Jamaican criminals, with the flight leaving as scheduled on Tuesday morning, despite a last-minute legal challenge.
A last-ditch court order on Monday night appeared to block plans to remove the detainees, convicted of offenses including manslaughter, rape, and armed robbery.
However, the planeload of convicts, from two detention centers near Heathrow, is believed to have taken off as scheduled at 6.30 am today.
"We make no apology for trying to protect the public from serious, violent and persistent foreign national offenders," a Home Office spokesman said in a statement.
"The court ruling does not apply to all of the foreign national offenders due to be deported and we are therefore proceeding with the flight."
The flight was scheduled to take about 50 criminals to Jamaica, however, it is currently unknown how many were on board the flight that took off this morning.
The government said they included people "convicted of manslaughter, rape, violent crime, and dealing Class-A drugs."
Bella Sankey, of Detention Action, said the liberal campaign group believed that some of the people who were due for deportation were not on the flight because they were covered by the court order.
She tweeted: "We understand that some, possibly all, of these individuals may have been ultimately removed from the flight but we are currently trying to clarify this."
Earlier, Ms. Sankey said removing those detainees covered by the order would have meant the Home Office was breaking the law.
The prime minister's office defended the move in a Monday statement.
"It's correct to say some of those on board are convicted of manslaughter, rape, violence and drug dealing," Boris Johnson's official spokesman said.
"It is long-standing government policy that any foreign national offender sentenced to 12 months or more in prison should be considered for deportation."
Thought to be among the deportees are a 23-year-old man, jailed for 15 months for drug offenses, and a 40-year-old man, jailed for seven years for a stabbing.
The court order covered anyone held in two detention centers close to Heathrow Airport - Colnbrook and Harmondsworth.
The judge granted the order without a court hearing following an urgent application on paper by Detention Action.
The charity argued that some of the detainees at the two Heathrow centers did not have a functioning mobile phone, following issues with an O2 phone mast in the area.
But the order did not apply to Brook House detention center, close to Gatwick Airport, although campaigners claimed detainees there had experienced similar problems.
According to Detention Action, around 56 people were being held in the two Heathrow detention centers.
It is not known exactly how many people were held in Brook House.