Removals_Deportations: Appeal Court Quashes UK Policy of Removing Migrants With Little Warning

Updated 31 May 2021: Guardian: Uncovered: the brutal secrets of UK deportation flight Esparto 11

‘All the passengers of Esparto 11 subsequently tracked down by Liberty Investigates and the Observer after being deported were from war-torn Sudan and South Sudan and claimed to be survivors of torture or trafficking.

The story of Esparto 11 also yields another fundamental question: why is the world’s fifth-richest economy so aggressively targeting a handful of at-risk people who arrived seeking sanctuary?’

On 12 August 2020 at 7.48am the first of a series of Home Office flights carrying asylum seekers left Stansted. This is the harrowing story of the hours before it took off and the anguish of those on board

At 7.15am, half an hour before charter flight Esparto 11 took off from Stansted airport, a detainee with a documented history of self-harm asked to use the plane’s bathroom. He was taken to the toilet by an escort working for the Home Office who held the door ajar with his foot and, after several minutes, peered inside to discover the detainee had slashed his wrist with a blade.

Pinning the man with his body weight to gain “control”, another officer squeezed into the bathroom and placed a handcuff on the wrist. According to an account written by officers, the handcuff was used to “[give] him pain”, a reference to a restraint technique which involves deliberately inflicting suffering to gain submission. In this case, most likely by twisting the cuff or pushing it into the wrist.

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21 October 2020: The court of appeal has quashed a Home Office policy of removing migrants from the UK without access to justice. In a unanimous decision, three judges found the policy, which allowed the forcible removal of a migrant from the UK sometimes within hours and in many cases without access to lawyers, to be unlawful. More than 40,000 removals were affected by the policy, resulting in vulnerable people being put at risk. Some were recognised as having been removed unlawfully, were brought back to the UK and granted leave to remain.

Wednesday’s ruling will be a blow for the home secretary, Priti Patel, who has vowed to take a tough line on removing migrants from the UK. It also comes at a time when she has been reported to be considering making some definitions of human rights law for judges rather than leaving judges to decide these legal points for themselves.

The judgment from the lord chief justice Lord Burnett, Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Lord Justice Coulson emphasises the importance of the right of access to justice under common law: “The right to access the court is an absolute and inviolable right … the right to access to the court is not a relative right to be balanced against other rights and interests.” The Home Office policy that has been quashed includes “removal windows”, whereby someone is given as little as 72 hours notice that they might be removed from the UK at some point during the subsequent three months, without any warning. The appeal court challenge was brought by the charity Medical Justice, the Public Law Project and Duncan Lewis solicitors.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,