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Asylum-seeker returns flight is halted by legal challenges

image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe Home Office has arranged a series of flights to return migrants who crossed the English Channel

A plane due to remove asylum-seekers from the UK has been cancelled after legal challenges.

The Home Office said the charter flight was "paused" to allow time for the applications to be considered.

On Wednesday, 12 migrants were returned to France and Germany by plane.

Asylum-seekers at a detention centre near Gatwick Airport are on hunger strike in protest at the proposed flights and some are reported to have tried to take their own lives.

In a Twitter post, the Home Office had earlier claimed that EU regulations that determine where an asylum claim is heard were being used by "activist lawyers" to delay and disrupt returns flights.

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said it was "highly misleading and dangerous" for the Home Office to claim "fundamentally that lawyers are not to be trusted".

"Attacks on the integrity of the legal profession undermine the rule of law," he said.

Charity Detention Action said 22 asylum-seekers at Brook House, near Gatwick Airport, were on hunger strike, while eight had tried to take their own lives.

The Home Office said it was "right that we seek to remove migrants who have travelled through a safe country and have no right to remain in the UK".

Attempts to return migrants to EU countries were often "frustrated" by last-minute legal challenges, which it said were "very often baseless and entirely without merit, but are given full legal consideration, leading to removal being rescheduled," it added.

Twenty-seven people - from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - have been flown back to European countries this month. The majority had arrived in the UK on small boats.

On Thursday morning, 26 migrants from Sudan crossed the Channel in three dinghies.

More than 5,000 people have reached the UK in this way this year.

Related Topics

  • Home Office
  • Immigration
  • Detention centres