PM hails 'welcome news' as campaigners lose High Court fight to block first Rwanda flight
Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana heard from an Iranian asylum seeker set to leave on Tuesday's flight
A High Court judge's decision to refuse to grant an injunction to halt a flight expected to deport dozens of people to Rwanda on Tuesday has been hailed as "welcome news" by Boris Johnson.
The judge said each case should be considered on an individual basis and there is no need for an injunction.
The case was lodged by a variety of charities, action groups and unions.
There are 31 people expected to be on Tuesday's flight, but as many as 130 people have been already told by the Home Office that they could be deported.
Lawyers for almost 100 migrants had submitted legal challenges asking to stay in the UK with the remaining anticipated to follow suit. The controversial plan to send migrants who enter the UK illegally more than 4,000 miles away to east Africa has been widely criticised ever since it was announced in mid-April.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “Welcome news from the High Court today. We cannot allow people traffickers to put lives at risk and our world leading partnership will help break the business model of these ruthless criminals.”
Home secretary Priti Patel also welcomed the court's decision.
"People will continue to try and prevent their relocation through legal challenges and last-minute claims, but we will not be deterred in breaking the deadly people smuggling trade and ultimately save lives," she said.
An police commander from Iran, who was forced to flee after refusing a government order to shoot protesters, is due to be on Tuesday's flight.
Now detained in Britain's Brock House detention centre, he told ITV News: “I am really, really stressed. Rwanda is really not a safe place for me - because the relationship Iran has with the Rwandan government, they can deport me anytime if they find out that I’m there.”
Although the plane will take off, not everyone will be on the flight ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anuska Asthana reports
Shortly after the judgment was concluded, Mr Justice Swift granted the claimants permission to appeal, suggesting Court of Appeal judges would hear the case on Monday.
During Friday’s proceedings, it emerged the Home Office had already cancelled removal directions for three people set to be on the first flight and that a further two will also have them cancelled.
ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana said: "What is going to happen next is that all the other individuals due to be on that flight will start making their own legal cases, and that will hold things up.
"That is why even Home Office sources are not convinced the flight is going to take off on Tuesday."
But Mr Justice Swift also denied an injunction to the two remaining claimants, one who had left Syria and the other Iraq, allowing their deportation.
“I accept that the fact of removal to Rwanda will be onerous,” he said.
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Lawyers for the claimants, which include campaign groups Care4Calais, Commercial Services Union (PCS) - which represents 80% of Border Force staff - and Detention Action told the High Court it is "not safe" to send people to Rwanda.
The High Court was told the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, had a number of concerns about the asylum process in Rwanda, including discriminatory access to asylum - including for LGBT people - a lack of legal representation and interpreters, and difficulties in appealing.
However. Mr Justice Swift said he did "not consider there is any evidence for the duration of the interim period that there will be ill-treatment, refoulement, or anything that gives rise to Article 3 treatment.” Article 3 of the Human Rights Act gives a person the right not to be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way.
Mr Justice Swift said that part of the claimants’ case focused on “the contention that the Secretary of State’s decision to treat Rwanda as a safe country is either irrational or based on insufficient investigation”.
In his ruling, the judge said this ground, with other parts of the case, would be heard with evidence at the full judicial review.
“Drawing these materials together, I accept that the claimants have made good their submission that there were trialable issues,” he said.
The judge said the case would be heard over two days before the end of July, noting that the claim was “not conspicuously strong”.
Raza Husain QC, for the claimants, said: "These are concerns that have been communicated to the UK authorities and yet the secretary of state's position... is that the UNHCR has given this plan a green light. That is a false claim."
He said there needed to be an evidence-based assessment for the policy, "not an aspirational basis, or hopes".
In court documents, Home Office lawyers urged the court to reject the application, arguing it "fails at the first stage", adding: "The claimants have not identified a serious issue to be tried, still less the strong case they allege for the grant of relief at trial."
But campaign groups are concerned about what they say is Rwanda's questionable human rights record.
Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said the vast majority of the 100 or so people being detained pending their removal to Rwanda that lawyers have spoken to are "overwhelmed by total shock and despair".
She said: "Many came to the UK believing it to be a good place that would treat them more fairly than the places from which they escaped.
"We say that the Rwanda plan is unlawful. We hope the courts will agree with us."
More than 100,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on the government to reverse its plan.
But the Home Office has said it expected legal challenges but is "determined to deliver this new partnership" and insisted the policy "fully complies with international and national law" while Downing Street said Boris Johnson remains confident the policy is legal.
The High Court is due to hear a further challenge to the policy on Monday, brought by refugee charity Asylum Aid and supported by fellow campaign group Freedom From Torture.