Patel: Reports of criminal who murdered after avoiding deportation ‘appalling’

Former home secretary Priti Patel has branded reports a criminal murdered a man after avoiding being deported “absolutely appalling”.

Ernesto Elliott was due to be flown back to Jamaica in December 2020 but was taken off a deportation flight after successful last-minute legal challenges which were supported by celebrities and Labour MPs, the Daily Mail reported.

Just six months later – in June 2021 – he and his son Nico Elliott stabbed 35-year-old Nathaniel Eyewu-Ago who chased them through Greenwich in south east London after they robbed him of cash and drugs. He later died in hospital after being stabbed in the heart, the Metropolitan Police said.

Video posted online captured the vicious street fight and showed the men lunging at each other with large knives in broad daylight.

Court staff confirmed 45-year-old Ernesto Elliott was last month jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years at Woolwich Crown Court after being found guilty of murder and robbery.

His 23-year-old son was also handed a life sentence and will have to serve at least 22 years behind bars, the Met said.

When asked about the incident at a Policy Exchange event in central London on Monday, Ms Patel said: “I was heavily involved in that as home secretary at the time, and I’m afraid, as ever, we came up against various specialist immigration lawyers, Labour MPs but also celebrities who for some reason thought that they should stop a deportation flight of foreign national offenders going back to Jamaica, and that was completely wrong.

“The individuals that were meant to go on that plane had a range of criminal activity amongst them, murderers, rapists, people who had done horrible things to children. And it was right that they should have been put on that flight.

“So I’m afraid it is absolutely appalling that individual who should have been on the plane basically was taken off the flight and went on to commit murder.”

In December 2020, campaigners tried to halt a scheduled deportation flight to Jamaica amid ongoing concerns over the Windrush scandal – with some of the people on board granted a last-minute reprieve after fresh asylum and modern slavery claims were made.

The Home Office insisted the flight was to remove dangerous foreign criminals from the country, including those convicted of rape and murder.

None of the people had been born in the UK or was eligible for the Windrush compensation scheme, the department said. Although officials would not say whether any had immediate relatives who were from the Windrush generation.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Foreign national offenders who exploit our system and commit crimes here in the UK will face the full force of the law, including deportation at the earliest opportunity for those eligible.

“The government is committed to stopping abuse of the immigration system, taking decisive action against those who try to play the system.

“While legal challenges can frustrate immediate deportation, we remain resolute in our commitment to deport those who abuse our hospitality.”