Home secretary Priti Patel has called comments from campaigners who linked the deportation of Black people to Jamaica “deeply offensive” because they linked it to the Windrush scandal. Said scandal involved the deportation of Black people to Jamaica.
The government has defended the action as it claims those deported are criminals with no right to be in the UK. Campaigners argue there should be no deportations until “justice has been delivered for all Commonwealth Windrush victims”.
Thirteen prisoners were deported to Jamaica in a flight on 2 December, but lawyers successfully moved to have another 23 removed from the aircraft’s passenger list, with their cases now under review.
Model Naomi Campbell and actress Thandie Newton were among more than 90 high profile figures who signed an open letter last week to several airlines calling on them to refuse to provide deportation flights for the prisoners.
The letter said in part:
Until justice has been delivered for all Commonwealth Windrush victims, any deportations to Commonwealth countries risk further unlawful removals of Windrush generation members or Windrush descendants who may have the right to remain in the UK but do not yet have the required paperwork.
Labour’s immigration spokesman Holly Lynch has led MPs’ opposition to the deportations, telling the Commons on 30 November the full consequences of the Windrush scandal had not yet been established.
With that in mind, what assessment has been made to ensure that none of those scheduled to be on the flight are eligible under the Windrush scheme, or have been affected by the wider immigration injustices that impacted the victims of the Windrush scandal?
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the home secretary was critical of the campaigners trying to link the cases of the “vile criminals” scheduled for deportation to the Windrush scandal that her party oversaw:
The Windrush scandal is a stain on our country’s history. That generation made an enormous contribution to our country and were wronged by successive governments.
To see ill-informed Labour politicians and do-gooding celebrities attempting to conflate the victims of Windrush with these vile criminals set for deportation is not only misjudged and upsetting but deeply offensive.
Patel said the government would “never stand in solidarity with rapists and murderers” and was “committed to removing these foreign criminals from our country” as they had violated British laws and had no right to remain in the country.
The Home Office scheduled similar deportations of “criminals” in February 2020. At the time, campaigners disputed the government’s claims about the people it targeted. One person it attempted to deport was a young autistic man with developmental issues who was convicted under the controversial joint enterprise law. This meant he was convicted for a crime that he did not commit.
The Windrush scandal began to emerge in 2017, revealing Caribbean migrants with a right to live in the UK were wrongfully detained or expelled by the Conservative government.
The Home Office insisted none of the offenders amid the 36 Jamaican individuals were eligible for the Windrush compensation scheme. But it would not say whether any had immediate relatives who were from the Windrush generation.
The department said all 36 originally due to be on board the flight were Jamaican citizens and none had been born in the UK. It would not say whether any had lived in the country since they were children.
Chris Philp, minister for immigration compliance, said the flight which left the UK in the early hours of 2 December had removed 13 “serious foreign criminals”.
Some of the other Jamaicans due to be on board were granted a last-minute reprieve after fresh asylum and modern slavery claims were made.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?