Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak has defended his plan to forcibly deport 50 people to Jamaica.
On Monday Sunak said those being removed from the UK had committed “very serious offences” and their deportations were “reasonable.”
A leaked report commissioned by ministers and seen by the PA new agency warns the government must reconsider in all but the most “severe cases.”
Sunak told Sky News he believes the flight to deport all 50 people is “right” and that the public will expect foreign national offenders to be on that flight.
He said, “What that plane is about is deporting foreign national criminals. Many of these people have committed crimes such as manslaughter, rape, other very serious offences.
“It’s reasonable, it’s proportionate, and something the British people would expect us to do for foreign criminals who have committed very serious crimes who should be sent back to their countries where they have a right to reside elsewhere.”
Sunak was asked about Tajay Thompson who served a 15 month prison sentence in 2015, for possessing class A drugs with the intent to supply when he was just 17.
Sunak said he was not familiar with Thompson’s case but insisted “all due process will have been followed.”
Thompson who has lived in south London since he was five and has no links with no family or friends living in Jamaica and is to be deported.
Thompson told the PA news agency, “I feel like I was born here. Jamaica is not my country” he said he was groomed at a young age into a gang.
“It’s not like I’m a rapist or a murderer, I’ve made a mistake when I was 17 and it’s now going to affect my whole life.”
Nadia Whittome, Labour MP has written a letter protesting against the Home Office deportation flight, saying the flight is intending to deport residents who have lived in the UK for decades.
The Labour MP said, “The fact is that many of the individuals in question have lived in the UK since they were children and at least 41 British children are now at risk of losing their fathers through this charter flight.
“The government risks repeating the mistakes of the Windrush scandal unless it cancels this flight and others like it until the Windrush Lessons Learned Review has been published and its recommendations implemented.”
Bell Ribeiro-Addy Labour shadow immigration minister said, the deportation flight is “the most brutal and inhumane way to remove people from this country.”
Adding, “It often lacks due process, has little regard for deportees’ safety, and even less for their right to a family life.”
The draft leaked report which was written in June 2019 and seen by the PA news agency said, “Government should review its policy and approach to FNOs (foreign national offenders), if necessary through primary legislation.
“It should consider ending all deportations of FNOs where they arrived in the UK as children [say before age of 13]. Alternatively, deportation should only be considered in the most severe cases.”
Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action said, “Mr Sunak is misrepresenting the individuals scheduled for deportation tomorrow.
“Our information indicates that most have been convicted of drugs-related offences, often only once, and several have been groomed into county lines operations.
“These individuals are more British than foreign and their removal is neither reasonable nor proportionate.
“Especially given that they are being detained without proper access to phones or lawyers.
“It is deeply irresponsible to compromise their safety by describing as the government insists on doing.”