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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.”
Boris Johnson said ministers remained confident the policy was lawful and that the Government was determined to press ahead with the the deportation flights.
Speaking to reporters at RAF Brize Norton after returning from Ukraine, Mr Johnson said: “Every single court in this country said that there was no obstacle that they could see.
“There was this weird last-minute hiccup we had with Strasbourg. Let’s see where we get with that. I have read some interesting legal commentary about that.
“But we are very confident in the lawfulness of what we are doing and we are going to pursue the policy.”
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.
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.
Business minister Paul Scully said he did not “recognise the link between the two”.
"There's no way the government can help everybody."
Business minister @scullyp tells #TimesRadio there's "no way" the government can support everyone, but insists that they are doing all they can. pic.twitter.com/2ivMPYSwIk
— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) June 17, 2022
He told Times Radio: “We want to put in a robust system that actually works because people, time and time again, at the ballot box have always said that mass migration in this way needs to be tackled.
“We feel that we’ve done it in a fair way and in a reasonable way, and no court as yet has ruled that Rwanda deal unlawful.”
When asked whether the Prime Minister’s “abetting” comment was appropriate, Mr Scully said: “I think the net result is that if we are blocking measures to tackle the situation in the Channel then, invariably, human traffickers will continue to apply their hideous trade and push people onto small dinghies and risking their lives.”
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”.