Minister says UK deportation flight removes seven despite 112 expected onboard

·3-min read
The sign outside the Home Office in Westminster, London (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)
The sign outside the Home Office in Westminster, London (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

A UK deportation flight to Jamaica removed just seven of the 112 people expected to be onboard, the Government has said.

Some Tory MPs could be heard shouting their disbelief at the total after it was announced in the House of Commons by Home Office minister Tom Pursglove.

He blamed “last-minute claims” from specialist immigration law firms and MPs for the low number on the Wednesday morning flight.

Home Office minister Tom Pursglove answers questions in the House of Commons (PA)
Home Office minister Tom Pursglove answers questions in the House of Commons (PA)

In a statement to the House, Mr Pursglove said: “The offences committed by the individuals on this flight include rape of a minor, sexual assault against children, firearms offences, dealing and importing controlled drugs and other violent crime, such as actual bodily harm.

“Between them they had a combined total of 58 convictions for 127 offences.”

Mr Pursglove, who earlier said more than 10,000 foreign national offenders have been removed from the UK since the start of 2019, added: “This flight to Jamaica makes up just 1% of total enforced returns in the year ending September 2021.”

He went on: “However many more criminals could have left the UK today.

“What we have seen over the last 24 hours is more last-minute claims facilitated by specialist immigration law firms, as well as representations from MPs to stop this flight from leaving.”

I can confirm that the manifest originally had 112 individuals on it, in the end only seven left our country on that flight

Home Office minister Tom Pursglove

Conservative MP William Wragg (Hazel Grove) asked: “How many dangerous foreign national offenders were due to be on the deportation flight this morning and how many actually left owing to appeals?”

Mr Pursglove replied: “I can confirm that the manifest originally had 112 individuals on it, in the end only seven left our country on that flight.”

Tory MP Peter Bone (Wellingborough) could be heard exclaiming: “How many? Seven?”

For Labour, shadow Home Office minister Stephen Kinnock said: “The Home Office must deport dangerous foreign criminals who have no right to be in our country and who should be returned to the country of their citizenship.”

He added: “But the Home Office also has a responsibility to get its deportation decisions right.”

Conservative MPs lined up to criticise the opposition, with claims Labour and the SNP supported “lefty” immigration lawyers over the British public.

Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis claimed his constituents were “flabbergasted that the woke, wet and wobbly lot opposite are on the side of their lefty woke warriors, who are making sure these rapists and paedophiles remain in this United Kingdom, rather than standing up for the British people and their safety”.

Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Dr Caroline Johnson said: “The SNP spokesman (Stuart C McDonald) said it may be very cruel to deport these criminals, criminals who are paedophiles, murderers and rapists, but I tell you what is very cruel – the suffering of victims, their families and any future victim and their families.”

SNP MPs could be heard shouting: “Withdraw that! Withdraw that! That is not what he said.”

The SNP’s Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow North East) later said: “Can I say how disrespectful I find it the way members on those benches keep talking about lawyers, who are after all simply protecting people under the laws of this country?

“It is childish in the extreme when every time we mention it all we hear is ‘lefty lawyers, lefty lawyers’. Who cares what their politics are? They protect people according to the law.”

Mr Pursglove replied: “I of course think that it is right and proper that people have access to legal advice and of course the legal profession, and due process is absolutely crucial to ensuring that these matters are handled sensitively and appropriately and correctly in accordance with the law, but what we can’t continue to have is this completely unbalanced situation where we do see abuses of the system.”

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