Ninety-one public figures have signed the letter asking airlines to refuse to operate next week’s Home Office deportation flight.
The letter has been signed by famous people including historian David Olusoga, model Naomi Campbell, and actor Thandie Newton. It was sent to six airlines known to have worked with the Home Office on deportation charter flights in the past: TUI UK and Ireland, Evelop Airlines, Titan Airways, Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), Hi Fly and Air Tanker. Signatories have urged airline chiefs to refuse to operate the 2 December flights, saying the move will transport many people to a country they have not been to since they were a child. ADVERTISEMENT They also call for the airlines to ‘cease the operation of deportation fights to Commonwealth countries for the foreseeable future’, warning that members of the Windrush generation or their descendants may be unlawfully deported – despite having the right to remain in the country. The letter states: ‘By way of example, one of the men deported from the UK to Jamaica on a charter flight operated by Evelop in Feburary 2020 was the grandson of a woman who arrived on the HMT Empire Windrush and is still seeking to have his deportation order revoked.’ Those behind the letter also draw attention to the 2018 Shaw Report, commissioned by the Home Secretary, which concluded that ‘the Home Office should no longer routinely seek to remove those who were born in the UK or have been brought up here from an early age’. Naomi Campbell is one of 91 public figures to have signed the letter (Picture: David Buchan/Variety/REX) They also highlight the results of a June Savanta ComRes poll, which found that 77% of the public agrees that people should not be deported if they have spent the majority of their lives in Britain. Some of the people facing removal next month have physical scars and other evidence of trauma from their time in Jamaica, while others have had siblings killed over there and could be at grave risk, the document warns. MORE: HOME OFFICE Last-minute legal action saves 23 ‘criminals’ from being deported Young boy’s heartfelt letter pleading for his dad not to be deported is ignored The best Black Friday homeware deals from Made There is also concern about the fates of victims of trafficking or forced labour. The letter states: ‘At least four of the young men detained for deportation on Evelop’s February 2020 flight to Jamaica have since been officially recognised as potential victims of trafficking following eleventh-hour reprieves. ‘It is unknown how many of those who were removed had similar profiles.’ Addressing airlines directly, the letter says ‘the credible risks of unlawful and wrongful deportations should be considered against a backdrop of concern about systemic racism’. It asks the CEOs to ‘reflect on whether the operation of this flight would comply with your corporate social responsibility values’. The letter has called on airlines to ‘cease the operation of deportation flights to Commonwealth countries for the foreseeable future’ (Picture: Getty Images) Responding to the letter, the Home Office said: ‘We make no apology for seeking to remove dangerous foreign criminals to keep the public safe. ‘Each week we remove foreign criminals from the UK to different countries who have no right to be here, this flight is no different. The people being detained for this flight include convicted murderers and rapists. “The UK only ever returns those who the Home Office and, where applicable, the courts are satisfied do not need our protection and have no legal basis to remain in the UK.’