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SCORES of black celebrities, Windrush campaigners and activists have urged airlines to not to operate a “wholly inappropriate” mass deportation flight of up to 50 people to Jamaica next week.
The 82 high-profile figures include supermodel Naomi Campbell, actors Thandie Newton and Naomie Harris, novelist Bernardine Evaristo and former Metropolitan Police superintendent Leroy Logan.
They signed an open letter to the bosses of six airlines known to have worked with the Home Office on deportation charter flights, as did leading Windrush campaigners including Michael Braithwaite and Elwaldo Romeo.
They urged the airlines, including Hi Fly, Titan Airways and TUI UK and Ireland, to refuse to operate the planned December 2 flight.
The signatories also called for a pause in deportation flights to Commonwealth countries.
The letter says that the planned deportation risks the “unlawful and wrongful removal of people who have the right to remain in the UK.”
This week, a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that the Home Office had failed to comply with equality law when implementing “hostile environment” immigration measures, contributing to serious injustices faced by members of the Windrush generation and their descendants.
According to the authors of the letter, the report’s findings “call into question the Home Office’s competency to deal with the continuing injustices it has created.”
The letter mentions that a man who was deported to Jamaica in February “was the grandson of a woman who arrived on the HMT Empire Windrush and is still seeking to have his deportation order revoked.”
It also says that some of the people due to be deported are believed to have been in Britain since childhood, while others are at “grave risk” of harm if deported.
Shadow justice secretary David Lammy said that Home Secretary Priti Patel had promised to implement in full the recommendations of Wendy Williams’s Windrush review, which included calls for the government to “consider ending all deportation of foreign national offenders where they arrived in the UK as children.”
“So why has she not done this?” Mr Lammy asked. “The government is paying lip service to Windrush victims while treating them with contempt.”
The government claimed that those to be deported include convicted rapists, murderers and other offenders and that none of them are eligible for the Windrush scheme.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We make no apology for seeking to remove dangerous foreign criminals to keep the public safe.”
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