An attempt to deport ten Channel migrants alongside 14 of the most dangerous foreign offenders in the UK were thwarted on Friday by last-minute legal challenges over human rights and modern slavery.
A Home Office chartered flight had been scheduled to return the ten migrants to Italy before flying on to Lithuania with 14 criminals including a murderer jailed for life, a robber sentenced to nine years in jail and two others responsible for 64 violence, drug and theft offences.
Italy had agreed to accept the ten migrants under the Dublin agreement that requires asylum claims to be processed in the first EU country where they had arrived.
However, last minute appeals by the migrants' lawyers saw the Home Office forced to abandon attempts to deport five because of human rights claims, four because they claimed to be victims of traffickers who had brought them to the UK and one for other legal reasons.
It came as Border Force boats on Friday intercepted 56 migrants as they tried to cross the Channel.
The plan for the flight to drop the migrants in Italy before flying to Lithuania. It is the third chartered flight where the Home Office has been forced to ditch the return of migrants to Europe including one where a flight took off with just one of the 29 asylum seekers that were due to be deported.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said: “Once again our efforts to facilitate entirely legitimate and legal returns were frustrated by legal claims. We know that such claims usually go onto fail after they have been given full legal consideration.
“These issues show that our asylum system is broken - which is why I am introducing a fairer and firmer system.”
It came as Ms Patel lost a deportation fight with a Nigerian immigrant convicted of drug offences. The man, now 32, was served with a deportation order after being convicted of supplying class A drugs and handed a four-and-a-half year jail term.
But the man mounted a challenge, arguing that deportation would disproportionately interfere with the human rights of his partner and two children, and three Court of Appeal judges have ruled in his favour.
Lord Justice Moylan, Lord Justice Baker and Lord Justice Popplewell had overseen a trial in July and published a written ruling on Friday. They considered the case after immigration tribunal hearings.