High Court demands explanation for network connectivity amid pending mass deportation

Controversy continues to brew in the United Kingdom, a week before a scheduled charter flight of Caribbean nationals, as select detainees, set to be deported, have sought the High Court’s intervention in widespread network connectivity issues.

Hundreds of Caribbean nationals have been left without a reliable network signal on Thursday (Feb. 6), days before the second charter flight of deportees – effectively cutting them off from legal advice and family.

Human rights charity Detention Action, which issued a legal challenge over the UK government’s failure to provide effective network access on Monday (Feb. 3), is urging the Home Office to issue alternative SIM cards.

Detention Action is also calling on the Home Office to ensure that anyone facing removal is given adequate time to access legal advice.

At the behest of select detainees, the High Court has demanded Home Secretary Priti Patel explain how the Home Office will solve the problem, no later 4 pm (local time) Thursday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel (Photo: Middle East Monitor)

BUZZ has been informed that up to 50 Jamaican deportees are set to be repatriated next Thursday, February 11.

When contacted, the Jamaican High Commission in London said that while it is aware of the issue, it would provide a comment momentarily.

Hundreds of detainees have suffered severe signal disruption on phones issued to them since early January, Detention Action noted in a statement.

As the outage continues, a third charter flight to Jamaica has been scheduled for 11 February, despite concerns over the ability of those affected to seek legal advice in relation to their intended removal.

“If it goes ahead, this will be only the second charter to Jamaica since the Windrush scandal broke in 2017,” Detention Action argued.

The legal challenge concerns weeks of disruption to Lycamobile signal in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs), the closest detention centres to Heathrow Airport that act as the staging post for many removals from the UK.

Phone signal has been severely disrupted since early January 2020 due to a fault with an O2 mobile phone mast in the area.

On Wednesday, members of parliament joined migration activists in calling on the Home Office to cancel the Jamaica flight.

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, warned in a tweet that without considering the outcome of the Windrush Lessons Learned review, Home Secretary Patel could not be sure she was not making the same mistakes.