UK likely to challenge European court ruling that halted Rwanda deportations


The UK is likely to challenge the European court of human rights’ ruling to stop the deportation of people seeking asylum to Rwanda and is already preparing for the next flight, a cabinet minister has said.

Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, played down the idea that the UK could withdraw from the European convention on human rights (ECHR) in response to the court’s decision to block the flight on Tuesday night.

But she told Sky News the government would “go back, I am sure, to the ECHR to challenge this initial ruling”.

Up to seven people who had come to the UK seeking refuge had been expected to be removed to the east African country an hour and a half before the flight was due to take off. The UK justifies the policy on the grounds that it is meant to deter people seeking asylum from making a dangerous crossing across the Channel by small boat.

But a ruling by the ECHR on one of the seven cases allowed lawyers for the other six to make successful last-minute applications.Activists block road from detention centre in bid to stop Rwanda flight – video

The decision is a significant setback for Boris Johnson and the home secretary, Priti Patel, who had promised to start sending thousands of those seeking asylum 4,000 miles to the east African country in May.

However, two government ministers appeared to reject that idea on Wednesday morning. Coffey said she was “not aware of any decisions or even hints about that”, while Guy Opperman, a pensions minister, told Times Radio: “I don’t believe it is our policy, nor would it be something I will be advocating for withdrawing from the ECHR.”

Coffey backed up Patel’s claim on Tuesday night that the UK was preparing for another flight of asylum seekers. However, the Home Office has not set a date for this flight and it would be likely to face similar legal problems if it were scheduled before a full court hearing on the legality of the policy due next month.

With the government facing criticism over the £500,000 cost of the failed flight and £120m given to Rwanda, Labour cast doubt on Patel’s claims to be proceeding as planned.

David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, told Sky News: “Look, this is a mess that Priti Patel created. She was told that the system was unworkable, unethical, and would cost an extraordinary amount of money.

A spokesperson for the Rwandan government, Yolande Makolo told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday: “We are not deterred by these developments. Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work.”

Source: The Guardian