Priti Patel hits out at lawyers and Labour MPs after 30 criminals evade deportation to Jamaica

Charles Hymas
Home Secretary Priti Patel at the Home Office in central London - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Home Secretary Priti Patel at the Home Office in central London - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Priti Patel attacked "lefty" lawyers and Labour MPs for protecting "murderers and rapists" after 30 criminals were removed from a Jamaican deportation flight following late legal challenges.

The flight was due to leave early Wednesday morning, with the Home Office having originally planned to deport 50 convicted criminals for violent, sexual or drug offences that had earned them a total of 294 years in prison.

But by Tuesday evening, that number had been whittled down to 20 by last-minute legal challenges for alleged breaches of human rights or claims they were victims of modern slavery.

Campaigners appealed on Tuesday evening for any pro bono lawyers who could challenge the deportation of the remaining 20 for breaches of their rights to a family life and even on the grounds that their high blood pressure made them unfit to fly.

A Home Office source said: "Lefty lawyers are going to spend all evening on the phones to judges in their pyjamas to try to get people who have committed heinous crimes dragged off this flight."

Ms Patel also replied to 70 Labour MPs, led by Clive Lewis, who had urged her to cancel the flight, saying their letter had caused her "most concern and distress". 

She cited two of the cases, one a murderer, the second a rapist, and the "devastating impact" their crimes had had on their victims.

"Take for example, Mr A. He was convicted of rape, served his time prison and put on the sex offenders register," she said. "During his trial, his victim issued a heart-breaking statement to the court where she talked of the pain and suffering this caused her. Tomorrow morning, we aim to deport her attacker.

"Or take Mr B, who violently murdered a father of one and was sentenced to life in prison. Tomorrow morning, we aim to deport this murderer.

"So, when you and other Labour MPs continue to call for the Government to stop this flight, I would implore you to think of the victims of these criminals' shameful offences... This flight is about criminality, not nationality.

"Staying in this country is a privilege, not a right. This Government will never stand by and allow foreign criminals, who have no right to remain, to walk free on our streets."