Temporary reprieve for 50 Jamaicans to be deported from England tomorrow

British campaigners are claiming a minor victory in their fight to stop the deportation of about 50 people to Jamaica from the UK Tuesday (Feb 11).

The detainees, who the British Home Office said are “foreign criminals” and are being held at two centres near Heathrow Airport, were due to be flown to the Caribbean island Tuesday morning. Early Monday (Feb 10), campaigners lost a High Court ruling but later the Court of Appeal reached a different decision.

The Home Office said those being deported are criminals but campaigners are contending that some were only children when they moved to the UK. However, the UK charity, Detention Action, which has been campaigning for the Jamaicans, argued some detainees at Colnbrooke and Harmondsworth centres still do not have a functioning mobile phone, after issues with a nearby O2 phone mast, and did not have adequate access to legal advice.

In handing down her ruling, Appeal Court judge, Lady Justice Simler ordered the Home Office not to remove anyone “unless satisfied [they] had access to a functioning, non-O2 SIM card on or before February 13”. Activists claim some of those facing deportation were as young as 13 when they moved to the UK.

Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said: “We are delighted with this landmark decision which is a victory for access to justice, fairness and the rule of law.”

In the meantime, the British government is defending its decision to push ahead with the deportation amid legal challenges and concerns that Windrush citizens could be among those removed.

More than 100 cross-party British Members of Parliament and peers have signed a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for the flight to be postponed pending recommendations from a review into Windrush, while the Labour Party said there was a worry British nationals could be involved.