Priti Patel tonight accused Labour MPs and ‘do-gooding’ celebrities of insulting Windrush victims.
She said it was ‘deeply offensive’ to liken those unjustly caught up in the scandal to Jamaican rapists, murderers and thugs who are trying to avoid being kicked out of Britain.
‘The Windrush scandal is a stain on our country’s history,’ said the Home Secretary.
Priti Patel accused Labour MPs and ‘do-gooding’ celebrities of insulting Windrush victims
Outspoken: Supermodel Naomi Campbell
‘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.’
Under the Windrush scandal, which began to emerge in 2017, Caribbean migrants living legally in Britain were wrongly targeted by the Home Office for removal, even though they were entirely innocent.
The scandal was invoked by Labour MPs and celebrities lobbying to stop the deportation of dozens of serious offenders.
Naomie Harris, left, and Thandie Newton, right
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, left, and David Olusoga, right
Diane Abbott MP
Supermodel Naomi Campbell, Line of Duty star Thandie Newton and James Bond actress Naomie Harris were among those to sign an open letter calling on the Government to delay this week’s removals to Jamaica. All the offenders were born on the island and none was a British citizen.
More than 60 MPs, mostly from the Labour Party, had urged Miss Patel to abandon the flight, saying of the criminals: ‘Britain is their home.’ Labour backbencher Kim Johnson described the deportation as ‘obscene and irresponsible’.
Holly Lynch, the party’s immigration spokesman, mentioned Windrush ten times when she challenged Home Office minister Chris Philp on the issue earlier this week.
Mr Philp said it was ‘completely wrong to conflate the people who were victims of terrible injustice in the Windrush cases with these cases who are nothing to do with Windrush’.
Windrush generations are the REAL victims
By Kumall Jaffer
The Windrush generation refers to nearly half a million people initially welcomed to Britain from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1970 amid a severe labour shortage.
They are named after the Empire Windrush, a cruise ship which brought one of the first large groups of West Indian immigrants to the United Kingdom in 1948.
Prince Charles spoke in June of the ‘debt of gratitude’ owed to them as they took up jobs in a nation rebuilding after the Second World War.
Because they were born in a British colony, they had a legal right to settle in the UK and were not given immigration documents.
But they fell victim to rule changes under former home secretary Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ policy. Their landing cards – for many, the sole proof of their legal arrival – had been destroyed in an office move by the Home Office in 2010.
This led to the scandal in 2018 when thousands could not provide documents needed under the new policy to remain in the UK.
Many were wrongly detained or threatened with deportation, including campaigners Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan. The case of the late Mrs Wilson helped shine a light on other victims of the scandal.
Mr Bryan, who arrived from Jamaica in 1965, was twice held in a detention centre in 2017. A review published in March found the Home Office had displayed ‘ignorance and institutional thoughtlessness’.
Miss Patel said: ‘This Government will never stand in solidarity with rapists and murderers and we remain committed to removing these foreign criminals from our country. They have violated our laws and have no right to be here.’
In the year to June, 5,208 offenders were forcibly returned to their home countries. Of those 2,630 were sent to EU states and just 33 to Jamaica, Mr Philp told the Commons.
Thirteen criminals were deported to Jamaica on Wednesday but lawyers for another 23 succeeded in having them removed from the aircraft’s passenger list.
One was pulled off the flight minutes before departure after his lawyers persuaded a judge to intervene.
The judge ordered a ‘stay’ – suspension – of deportation in the early hours, just before the 2am flight from Stansted was due to leave the stand.
It is not known what crime the offender committed, but he will have served at least 12 months to qualify for deportation.
Home Office sources claimed that the incident highlighted the ‘opportunistic’ tactics deployed by immigration lawyers. Growing numbers of cases are being blocked by human rights lawyers and pressure groups, they added.
A class action attempting to win an injunction blocking the flight altogether was thrown out an hour before take-off, it is understood.
‘We ramp up our resources to deal with last-minute representations, since we know that this is what they will do – that they will wait for the last four hours,’ said one Home Office source. ‘Often in the hope, presumably, that we won’t be able to deal with it in time. The last injunction was a stay on removal in the last minutes.
‘It was before the door closed, push back hadn’t started. The doors hadn’t actually shut so we were able to take him off.
‘Because the judge granted the stay in those circumstances we risked being in contempt of court.
‘As soon as the judge grants a stay we have to do everything possible to get the person off the flight.’
Officials said this scenario happened ‘a number of times a year’. Thirty charter flights have taken place to other countries this year. Only this week’s Jamaica flight attracted such violent opposition, sources said.
It is understood 36 Jamaican criminals were notified five days before the flight that they would be deported and at that stage none had outstanding legal barriers to removal.
But a large proportion then submitted legal challenges.
New claims included human rights appeals and allegations that the criminals had been victims of modern slavery. The Mail revealed yesterday that a murderer and two rapists were among those who avoided deportation to Jamaica.
They included Michael Antonio White, who was convicted of murder in 2003 and is now in his 50s.
He was sentenced to life in prison for murder following a drug deal which went awry and resulted in him shooting his victim six times.
A convicted cocaine dealer, who is the father of a Premier League academy footballer, is also understood to have been taken off the flight. The man, who served three years, cannot be named for legal reasons. A source said: ‘Four years ago we were removing record numbers of foreign national offenders.
‘Since then it has become a lot harder. We’re seeing a much higher proportion of people making asylum and other protection claims very late in the process. Certain legal decisions have made it harder for us to remove people.
‘We’ve seen increasing involvement of pressure groups, who disagree with the whole notion of immigration enforcement.’
Many, if not all, of those who dodged deportation may now have to be freed because they can only be detained if removal is imminent.
Monsters they’re backing
12 years for rape & kidnap
Fabian Henry was jailed for 12 years for raping a 17-year-old girl twice and abducting and having sex with a girl of 15 while on bail.
But he won an 11th hour reprieve from deportation to Jamaica in February this year. In an echo of Wednesday’s decision, campaigners claimed the deportation could risk an outrage similar to the Windrush scandal.
Henry, left, was described as ‘devious, callous and manipulative’ by a judge at Bristol Crown Court in August 2013 when he was sentenced, then aged 30.
18 years for murder
Michael White was allowed to remain in the UK on Wednesday despite murdering a young man over drug money.
He had been scheduled to be deported to Jamaica, but was handed a last-gasp postponement. It remains unclear why he was allowed to stay in the country, but some due to be on the flight claimed to be victims of modern slavery.
White was sentenced in 2003 to a minimum of 18 years for murder and attempted murder at London’s Kingston Crown Court after a drug deal went awry.
Six years for rape
Jermaine Stewart, from Liverpool, was sentenced to six years in 2014 for raping a woman who fell asleep on his sofa.
He was one of the 23 criminals who avoided deportation to Jamaica on Wednesday’s flight at the last minute.
Stewart, pictured left, had left his victim ‘an emotional wreck’ following the ordeal, she said during his trial. The judge said the victim was ‘effectively comatose’ by tiredness, drink and drugs on the settee in his flat during the attack.
Ten years for manslaughter
Fitzroy Daley was finally deported on Wednesday after he initially avoided being removed on an earlier flight.
He was convicted of manslaughter after he stabbed a man to death in a row outside a pub in east London.
Jurors acquitted Daley, then 36, of murder but he was jailed for ten years over the stabbing of Eric Paul, 50. The Old Bailey was shown CCTV footage of Daley, left, attacking Mr Paul from behind after a ‘minor scuffle’ just before Christmas in 2012.
Duo given life for murder
Paul Bingham, 49, and Rocardo Forbes , 52, were deported on Wednesday after convictions for killing a drug dealer.
They were jointly convicted of murder nearly 18 years ago and sentenced to life. Forbes, above left, and Bingham, right, shot crack cocaine dealer Harrington Jack in north London.
Paul Bingham, left, and Rocardo Forbes, right
Cruel and obscene… Critics’ rage at Patel
‘Does the minister accept that many people feel that this mass deportation is both cruel and potentially dangerous: Cruel because he is separating, just weeks from Christmas, families of people who have served their sentence; and possibly dangerous because he is deporting vulnerable people – communities that we know are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus – in the middle of a pandemic?’
Diane Abbott, former Labour shadow home secretary, in a Commons debate on Monday
‘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.
‘The credible risks of unlawful and wrongful deportations should be considered against a backdrop of concern about systemic racism.
‘The unlawful killing of George Floyd in the US led to widespread Black Lives Matter protests across the UK highlighting our society’s many shortcomings in valuing Black lives with equal worth.’
Open letter by celebrities including Naomi Campbell, Thandie Newton, Naomie Harris, historian David Olusoga and Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah
‘It is clear that we have not yet established just how far the consequences of the Windrush injustice extend. 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?’
Holly Lynch, Labour’s immigration spokesman, in Monday’s Commons debate
‘Government plans to push ahead with the mass deportation … to Jamaica this week are both obscene and irresponsible.’
Labour MP Kim Johnson
‘The Home Office has got it wrong again and again on immigration. Will it therefore think again, halt this deportation flight and finally end the illegal hostile environment?’
Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy
‘The cost of deportation – economic, ethical and, most importantly, human – cannot be justified. Can the minister confirm that an equalities impact assessment has been completed regarding these proposed deportations, to demonstrate that due regard has been paid to equalities legislation?’
Labour MP Abena Oppong-Asare
‘Having served as a Home Office minister in the last Labour government, I well understand the rule of law in immigration policy. But, this policy can only stand the test of time if it is deemed to be fair, just, and proportionate.
‘This mass deportation does not appear to me to pass this test. And so I urge you to think again on this matter; stop the deportation and restore faith that the Home Office will always act in a fair and just way.’
Labour MP Liam Byrne, in a letter to Priti Patel