Jamaica charter flight leaves with less than 10 on board after dozens of eviction tickets canceled

A charter flight to Jamaica left the UK with around seven people on board after dozens of people had their tickets canceled in the days and hours leading up to its departure following legal intervention.

Preparation for the flight was mired in controversy, as the Home Office continued to move forward despite calls from the Jamaican government to cancel the operation over concerns over potential cases of Covid among inmates.

But the flight took off shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to flight tracking data shared by the Movement for Justice campaign group. The independent understands that between seven and 10 deportees were on board, out of a total capacity of 50 and the Interior Ministry’s original “long list” of 90 people they wished to deport.

The Jamaican High Commissioner had also raised concerns with the department that removal instructions had been issued for people who arrived in the UK as young children, despite an earlier policy. not to do it. The Home Office refused to publicly accept such a policy, but The independent understands that no one who arrived before the age of 12 ended up on the flight.

Sanjay McLean, who moved to the UK at the age of 12 and whose lawyers claim he is entitled to UK citizenship under the Windrush scheme, had his ticket canceled at the last minute after his lawyers obtained an injunction from the High Court.

Talk to The independent At 11:15 p.m. Tuesday from a van at Stanstead Airport, the 41-year-old said he was told the Home Office was appealing the judge’s decision and was therefore being detained at the airport until the flight departs in case they won the appeal.

“I’m in the wrong place, I don’t know how to feel, round and round, I thought a weight was lifted from my shoulder, and now they are doing it again. I’m an emotional wreck right now, ”he said.

Mr. McLean was ultimately not put on the flight and returned to the Colnbrook withdrawal center around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Two other people at risk of deportation, both arriving in the UK as children, attempted suicide in the hours leading up to the flight, which led to them being rushed to hospital and prevented them from being deported.

A Jamaican government source said The independent that a meeting was held on Tuesday morning in which Kingston asked the Home Office not to proceed with the theft, citing concerns about the spread of Covid – but their request appears to have been ignored.

There were at least two confirmed coronavirus cases among Jamaican nationals in the Colnbrook withdrawal center in the days leading up to the flight, with at least one unit in the center – known as the C-Wing – placed in isolation Consequently.

Javaun Simpson, who is in Wing C and was supposed to be on the flight, said The independent Wednesday morning that none of the wing’s four Jamaican nationals were taken in for deportation. They were not told why, but he said he suspected it was due to Covid security.

“I thought I was being taken but no one came. I’m relieved that I wasn’t, but I’m still worried. I’m still here and still don’t know if they’re going to try to kick me out again, ”he said.

The independent understands that the Jamaican High Commission was under the impression that all deportees would have undergone a negative PCR test before they arrived in the country – but they are not. The plane has yet to land and it is not clear whether the Jamaican government will accept them without proof of PCR testing.

The Home Office said it carefully manages charter flight operations and only expels people when it is safe, adding that everyone on board will be seen by a medical professional before they depart.

They added: “The government is clear that foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes should have no doubts about our determination to deport them. “

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