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UK Home Secretary says ECHR decision to ground migrant flight to Rwanda was politically motivated

The Cabinet minister has previously said the Government ‘will not be put off by the inevitable last-minute legal challenges’.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel
Image: James Manning/PA

THE “ABSOLUTELY SCANDALOUS” European court decision which effectively grounded the first flight to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was politically motivated, according to the UK Home Secretary.

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday granted an injunction that resulted in a chartered aircraft to Kigali being unable to depart Wiltshire.

“You’ve got to look at the motivation,” Priti Patel told The Daily Telegraph.

“How and why did they make that decision? Was it politically motivated? I’m of the view that it is, absolutely.

“The opaque way this court has operated is absolutely scandalous. That needs to be questioned.

“We don’t know who the judges are, we don’t know who the panel are, we haven’t actually had a judgment – just a press release and a letter saying we can’t move this person under rule 39.

“They’ve not used this ruling previously, which does make you question the motivation and the lack of transparency.”

The last-ditch legal rulings sparked calls by some Tory MPs to pull Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights which the court rules on, though it appears the Government is not willing to take such a drastic step.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has suggested the UK will stay within the convention but new laws could ensure that interim measures from the Strasbourg court could effectively be ignored by the Government.

The grounding of the flight came after a series of legal challenges in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and ECHR on behalf of the asylum seekers due to be sent on the one-way trip to the east African nation.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly hit out at those bringing the legal challenges, accusing them of “abetting” criminal gangs.

The lawyers, meanwhile, have reportedly received death threats.

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Business minister Paul Scully said he did not “recognise the link between the two”.

He told Times Radio: “We want to put in a robust system that actually works because people, time and time again, at the ballot box have always said that mass migration in this way needs to be tackled.

“We feel that we’ve done it in a fair way and in a reasonable way, and no court as yet has ruled that Rwanda deal unlawful.”

When asked whether the Prime Minister’s “abetting” comment was appropriate, Scully said: “I think the net result is that if we are blocking measures to tackle the situation in the Channel then, invariably, human traffickers will continue to apply their hideous trade and push people onto small dinghies and risking their lives.”

The court battles mean there is uncertainty over when any further attempts to fly asylum seekers to the African country will be made, although Patel has previously said the Government “will not be deterred from doing the right thing, we will not be put off by the inevitable last-minute legal challenges”.

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