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DEPORTATION flights from a Royal Air Force base cost twice as much as expulsions via civilian airports, the Morning Star has found.
RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire was secretly put into use after a major protest at Stansted airport last year.
Activists from End Deportations, known as the Stansted 15, locked themselves to the wheels of a deportation jet bound for Nigeria and Ghana, preventing the flight from leaving the tarmac at Stansted.
In response to this demonstration, the Home Office used RAF Brize Norton five times last year to deport 223 people to West Africa.
The specially chartered flights cost £2,201,269.50 – including the costs of security guards, coaches and administration, a parliamentary question from Green MP Caroline Lucas found.
This means the Home Office spent nearly half a million pounds per flight from Brize Norton, or £9,871 per person deported.
The Star’s analysis of Home Office data reveals that this is double the cost of deportation charter flights from civilian airports last year, which cost £4,645 per deportee.
Minnie Rahman, campaigns manager at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said our findings were “deeply concerning.”
Ms Rahman said that “as a result of peaceful protest, the Home Office switched its charter flights to Brize Norton stating it needed increased security.
“This has resulted in the government spending twice as much money to carry out these operations, often at night, and raises serious questions about military involvement in immigration enforcement.”
As well as the authorities spending more money on deportations since the Stansted protest, the activists were charged under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990. This is a counter-terrorism law introduced after the Lockerbie bombing and carries up to life in prison.
On Monday, all 15 activists were found guilty by a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court. They will be sentenced at a later date.
Human rights campaigners have criticised the prosecution, saying the use of terrorism law is disproportionate and will chill protest.
Amnesty International had described the verdict as a “crushing blow” that would “send a shiver down the spine of anyone who cares about the right to protest in our country.”
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