Sunak Gets Another Slap On The Wrist From High Court Over Confusing Dates Of Rwanda Flights

The judge says the government has offered "insufficient clarity" on when their flagship scheme will actually start.
WPA Pool via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has been ordered by a High Court judge to confirm exactly when the first Rwanda deportation flight will take off.

The prime minister has mentioned several potential start dates for his flagship policy in recent months, which Mr Justice Martin Chamberlain has said offers “insufficient clarity”.

The court needs to know the date of the first flights for asylum seekers so it can choose the best date for hearing a legal challenge – brought by the union for top civil servants, FDA – against it.

These civil servants claim they could be breaching international law if they take part in the Rwanda scheme, as well as the civil service code if they follow a minister’s orders.

The government is expecting Whitehall staff to ignore aEuropean Court of Human Rights’ requests to ban a deportation, and go ahead with it anyway.

This legal challenge was set to be heard between June 4 and 7 when the government said asylum seekers would not be removed until the first fortnight of July.

Then, in early May, the date of the first flight was moved forward to June 24 – at which point Sunak was told off by the High Court for changing the dates around.

Then, shortly after announcing the general election, Sunak told journalists: “If I’m re-elected as prime minister on July 5, these flights will go, we will get our Rwanda scheme up and running.”

The court has subsequently asked for the cabinet office and the home office to make it clear just when they want to start removals.

In an order from May 23, but published on Tuesday, the judge said: “The timetable for this claim was set on the basis that removals to Rwanda would begin at the earliest on July 1 2024.

“The Government then changed its position, saying that removals could begin in the week commencing June 24 2024. Following the announcement of a General Election, the Prime Minister has said that removals will begin ‘in July’. That provides insufficient clarity for the purposes of timetabling this claim.”

The order was “on the court’s own initiative” meaning it’s unusual for such proceedings.

The judge said the government needed to reply by May 24. No response has been made public yet.

Another hurdle is the potential for the entire scheme to be scrapped come July 5.

Keir Starmer is leaps and bounds ahead of Sunak and the Tories in the opinion polls, and he has made it clear Labour intend on scrapping the deportation plan if they get into office.

And some of the migrants rounded up for deportation already secured bail, as they can only be held if there is realistic prospect of removal in a reasonable timescale.


What's Hot