Controversial Rwanda flight CANCELED minutes before take-off after legal challenges

The flight was expected to cost hundreds of thousands and only have a few asylum seekers on board, as Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said “I cannot be final on this point” when asked if the highly controversial plane would still take off

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Rwanda: Plane suspected of flying refugees

A controversial flight to Rwanda carrying desperate asylum seekers was canceled at the last minute after Boris Johnson’s government faced multiple legal challenges.

The flight, scheduled for 10.30pm tonight, was expected to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and only have a few asylum seekers on board before last minute interventions by the European Court of Human Rights resulted in all migrants being removed from the plane.

The decision comes after the Tories’ plan to take their shipment of desperate asylum seekers and dump them 4,000 miles away in the east African country sparked outrage and a day of protests from activists, charities and religious leaders who called it inhumane.

Things began to descend into chaos when at least one of the seven migrants expected to board was granted a late reprieve by the European Court of Human Rights. According to reports, a second one was also allowed to stay here.

A government source even admitted tonight that they had expected the original figure of 130 to “land at zero” on the flight.

The Boeing 767 at MoD Boscombe Down near Salisbury believed to be the aircraft intended to bring asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda



Church of England leaders, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, slammed the “immoral policy” as a move “intended to shame us as a nation” and accused the Prime Minister of “outsourcing our ethical responsibilities”.

The migrants had entered Europe illegally via the English Channel in small boats.

Downing Street said at midday it could guarantee that a removal flight to Rwanda would definitely go ahead tonight after a spate of legal challenges.

But when asked just before midday, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said “at this point I can’t be definitive” when asked if the highly controversial plane was yet to take off.

An activist blocking a road leading away from the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Center holds a banner during a protest against the UK government’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda



It comes after a bid to legally prevent the flight through a High Court appeal fell through last week.

The appeal was brought by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents more than 80% of Border Force employees, along with charities Care4Calais and Detention Action.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper added: “We must act to create targeted safe legal pathways for those most at risk of exploitation and revise existing resettlement plans to try to prevent some illegal exploitation.”

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Lord Paddick said: “Israel tried the same policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda and it failed.

“When will the government admit that their Rwanda policy is less about stopping smugglers and everything to do with the UK abandoning its moral responsibility to give sanctuary to genuine asylum seekers in this country and its legal obligations according to the UN Refugee Convention?”

Hundreds of protesters gather during a protest against the UK’s plan to send migrants and asylum seekers to Rwanda


Agency Anadolu via Getty Images)

The organizations failed on Friday with a Supreme Court request for an injunction.

Shortly after No 10’s comments at a press conference today, the case of one of four asylum seekers trying to prevent his deportation in the High Court this morning was dismissed by a judge.

The man, an Iranian Kurd who suffered from PTSD in Turkey while traveling to the UK, had filed a lawsuit asking not to be on the upcoming flight due to his mental health and relationship with his sister in the UK to be dismissed.

However, in a brief decision on Tuesday morning, Mr Justice Swift declined to grant interim relief.

In the second case of the day, a Vietnamese man failed to persuade a High Court judge to stop his deportation to Rwanda.

Protesters from the Freedom from Torture charity, including torture survivors and director of Survivor Empowerment Kolbassia Haoussou MBE


freedom from torture)

His lawyer said the man applied for asylum after receiving “death threats from loan sharks” in Vietnam and not being given a proper opportunity to make statements.

But Mr Justice Swift also refused to grant interim relief.

Up to 130 asylum seekers have been told they would be on the first charter flight to the African nation ordered by the Home Office.

But although the Court of Appeals approved the flight and the Supreme Court denied further appeal at noon today, individual lawsuits initially reduced the number of passengers to seven.

This was before four of the people believed to be on the deportation flight, including those from Iran, lodged complaints in the High Court.

Supreme Court President Lord Reed said there had been an “assurance” that steps would be taken to bring back any migrants who were flown to Rwanda should the policy later prove unlawful.

A protester holds a placard with a drawing of Paddington Bear during the demonstration at the Home Office


Hesther Ng/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock)

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss promised the flight would be operated with few passengers, despite costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Asked if it wouldn’t fly if all the asylum seekers were pulled off the plane, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman replied: “That’s how I understand it, but I’m not going to speculate on what courts may or may not decide.”

He refused to rule out the flight even if there was only one asylum seeker on board.

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