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05th Nov 2018

David Lammy condemns ‘great shame’ of secret deportation flights from RAF base

Oli Dugmore

He said Theresa May’s Hostile Environment policy was a ‘dystopian reality’

Labour MP David Lammy has condemned secret deportation flights ran out of RAF Brize Norton.

The five flights, uncovered by JOE through a freedom of information request, deported hundreds of people to west Africa.

Lammy said the militarisation of the deportation process “puts great shame on our country” and “undermines the UK’s moral legitimacy.”

BRIZE NORTON, ENGLAND - JULY 01: An RAF C17 aircraft arrives at RAF Brize Norton carrying the victims of last Friday's terrorist attack in Tunisia, on July 1, 2015 in Brize Norton, England. British nationals Adrian Evans, Charles Evans, Joel Richards, Carly Lovett, Stephen Mellor, John Stollery, and Denis and Elaine Thwaites are the first of the victims of last week's terror attack to be repatriated. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Deportations to Nigeria and Ghana normally take place from London Stansted, a civilian airport, on specially chartered planes. However, the programme appears to have moved to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, following a major protest at Stansted where activists chained themselves to the wheels of a deportation jet in March 2017.

A Nigerian man, mistakenly taken to RAF Brize Norton and nearly deported, spoke to JOE anonymously: “When the Home Office tried to deport me, they put me in a detention centre next to Gatwick Airport. I was suicidal.

“I thought they were taking me to Gatwick, but after three hours on the road I noticed a military camp surrounded by barbed wire. There were guys in green camouflage holding big guns. They shouted at the driver asking for details. Even the driver seemed scared.

“They don’t take people to normal airports any more because people protested, so they take you to a military base instead.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 01: Labour MP David Lammy meets representatives of the Windrush generation at the House of Commons on May 1, 2018 in London, England. Residents from the Caribbean and African Commonwealth countries first arrived on the HMT Empire Windrush from June 1948 until the 1970s. Recently many from the Windrush Generation have been asked to leave the UK or denied healthcare as they have no official documentation. The British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, resigned over the matter when it transpired she had 'inadvertently misled' parliament on the Home Office's policy on enforced returns. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

David Lammy told JOE: “This is another glimpse at the dystopian reality of Theresa May’s Hostile Environment policy.

“It puts great shame on our country that in 2018 we are secretly tying up humans in belts, forcing them to military camps, and then deporting them to countries many have not been to since they were children.

“It is no wonder that these ghost flights undergo major protests when they take off from civilian airports. They are inhumane, cruel, and undermine the UK’s moral legitimacy.

“In the wake of this and other scandals, we need to begin a national conversation about the introduction of a modern and fair immigration policy.”