Anti-deportation fighters block removals – are backed by TUC

Protesters locked in front of Brook House immigration removal centre to stop vans from bringing detainees to board the Gatwick charter flight

MOST of the people due to be put aboard a controversial deportation flight to Jamaica yesterday have been removed from the flight list!

This was after anti-deportation fighters blocked the road in front of a detention centre to prevent detainees from being put on the plane.

The activists, calling themselves Stop The Plane, had locked themselves to metal pipes outside Brook House immigration removal centre near Gatwick airport.

Originally more than 50 Jamaican nationals were due to be deported, but most of them have now been taken off the passenger list.

The flight was due to depart at 1am yesterday morning. Messages online from anti-deportation groups said the flight departed Birmingham airport with just three deportees on board a plane able to seat 350 people!

Home Office deportation flights to Jamaica are hotly contested after the Windrush scandal. They are seen as a disproportionate ‘targeting’ of Jamaicans for deportation.

Concern has been raised at the highest level by the Jamaican High Commissioner, Seth Ramocan, about people who have been in the UK since childhood.

A survey of 17 people originally expected to fly yesterday, by the organisation Movement For Justice, identified at least ten who have been in the UK since they were children.

They include one man who came to Britain at the age of nine and was raised by his aunt, who was from the Windrush generation. At least 24 British children have been at risk of losing their fathers.

Another man, who came to the UK at the age of ten, and served an eight-year-sentence for a kidnapping offence, is suffering from dangerously high blood pressure.

In the past few weeks he has been taken to hospital several times, admitted and then discharged back to the detention centre. His blood pressure has been as high as 260/150, particularly high for someone of 34. A healthy reading is in the range of 90/60 to 120/80.

His lawyer, Jacqueline McKenzie of Leigh Day solicitors, said she had been informed his wrist was believed to have been fractured earlier on Tuesday during a brutal ‘restraint episode’ in the detention centre.

One medical assessment carried out during the man’s detention states: ‘He needs to be released from custody as soon as practically possible as we cannot predict when he would have another massive MI, or even a stroke or fatal event.

‘Please release him as soon as possible to avoid a major cardiovascular event.’

McKenzie commented: ‘I am extremely concerned about our client, who has been deemed unfit to fly. It is unclear why the Home Office has chosen to be so belligerent in this case.’

A spokesperson for Stop The Plane said: ‘We reject the legitimacy of the entire deportation regime. It is premised on racist notions of black, brown and racialised people.’

The Home Office insisted: ‘Those individuals with no right to be in the UK and foreign national offenders should be in no doubt that we will do whatever is necessary to remove them.’

It added: ‘All immigration removal centres have dedicated 24-hour on-site medical facilities, including access to independent doctors and nurses, with healthcare support provided throughout the removal process.’

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady had called for the flight to be called off, adding: ‘There have been far too many miscarriages of justice in the immigration system. All deportation flights should be suspended while the Home Office addresses its failures to adequately check the circumstances of those targeted for deportation.’