First Rwanda flight to go ahead as campaigners lose High Court fight

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First Rwanda flight to go ahead as campaigners lose High Court fight
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The first Rwanda flight is set to go ahead on Tuesday after campaigners lost a High Court bid to block the Government’s plan to fly the migrants out of the UK.

Boris Johnson and Priti Patel welcomed the outcome in posts on social media on Friday.

But The Times reported that Prince Charles had called the deportations “appalling” in private.

A source said: “He said he was more than disappointed at the policy. It was clear he was not impressed with the government’s direction of travel.”

Clarence House insisted that the heir to the throne had not tried to influence the government. A spokesman said: “We would not comment on supposed anonymous private conversations with the Prince of Wales, except to restate that he remains politically neutral. Matters of policy are decisions for government.”

Migrants, campaign groups and a union had asked judges to block the upcoming deportation flight which is a one-way ticket to the east African nation as Home Secretary Priti Patel plans to try and curb Channel crossings.

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.

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% 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.

He said: “I do not consider that the balance of convivence favours the grant of the generic relief.”

In response, both Boris Johnson and Priti Patel tweeted in support to welcome the news.

The Prime Minister tweeted: “Welcome news from the High Court today. We cannot allow people traffickers to put lives at risk and our world leading partnership will help break the business model of these ruthless criminals.”

The Home Secretary added: “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.”

During the proceedings, it emerged the Home Office had already cancelled removal directions for three people set to be on the first flight and that a further two will also have them cancelled.

The two remaining migrants who made the claim are still due to be removed on the flight.

During the hearing, Raza Husain QC, for the claimants, told the court the “procedure is simply unsafe” and called for an evidence-based assessment for the policy, “not an aspirational basis, or hopes”.

The barrister later said the agreement between the two countries, known as a Memorandum of Understanding, was “unenforceable”.

“Nothing monitors it, there’s no evidence of structural change. The risks are just too high,” he added.

Mr Husain also told the court assertions by the Home Office that UN refugee agency the UNHCR had given the plans the “green light” was a “false claim”.

However, Home Office lawyers said legal action should not be allowed to derail the plans and urged the court to reject the application, arguing there was a “strong public interest in permitting these removals to proceed as scheduled” and a “clear public interest in deterring the making of dangerous journeys and the activities of criminal smugglers”.

Previously, the department said it expected legal challenges but is “determined to deliver this new partnership” and insisted the policy “fully complies with international and national law” while Downing Street said Boris Johnson remains confident the policy is legal.

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

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