Priti Patel's UN cash threat over Rwanda flight help for Euro judges
16th June 2022

Priti Patel threatens to CUT Britain’s UN funding after UNHCR helped European judges block Rwanda flights – as Raab insists judgement should not have been ‘legally binding’ on UK

  • Home Secretary is said to be examining Britain’s funding for UN refugee agency
  • It was cited by the European Court of Human Rights when it grounded plane 
  • High Commissioner For Refugees said: ‘We believe that this is all wrong.’

Ministers have turned their ire on the United Nations over the failure of a plane carrying deportees to Rwanda to take off due to a European court.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is said to be examining Britain’s funding for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the wake of Tuesday’s embarrassment.  

Its opposition was cited by the European Court of Human Rights in its eleventh-hour intervention that grounded the aircraft at the MOD’s Boscombe Down base.

The UNHCR has said Rwanda, whose own human rights record is under scrutiny, does not have the capacity to process the claims, and there is a risk some migrants could be returned to countries from which they had fled.  

Before the flight took off, High Commissioner For Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters: ‘We believe that this is all wrong…for so many different reasons.

‘The precedent that this creates is catastrophic for a concept that needs to be shared like asylum.’ 

Regarding funding, a Whitehall source told the Times: ‘We’re looking into it. It’s a lot of money to give an organisation that spends so much time trying to undo our policies. They must have spent a fortune on lawyers for the role it has played in the courts over the last few days.’

It came as Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the ECHR should not have intervened to over-rule UK court decisions.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is said to be examining Britain’s funding for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the wake of Tuesday’s embarrassment.

Its opposition was cited by the European Court of Human Rights in its eleventh-hour intervention that grounded the aircraft at trhe MOD’s Boscombe Down base.

It came as Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the ECHR should not have intervened to over-rule UK court decisions.

Before the flight took off, High Commissioner For Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters: ‘We believe that this is all wrong…for so many different reasons.’

The row has led to calls from some Tory MPs to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the document interpreted by the court in Strasbourg – something which No 10 and Attorney General Suella Braverman have not ruled out, although it appears unlikely the Government would want to take such a drastic step.

Ministers have been told future flights may be delayed for up to a year amid interventions by the European Court of Human Rights.

The court could use temporary injunctions to roadblock the flights for several months to come.

The Justice Secretary said the UK would stay within the convention but new laws could ensure that interim measures from the Strasbourg court could effectively be ignored by the Government.

He told Times Radio: ‘In relation to the latest intervention from Strasbourg, so-called Rule 39 interim orders, which are not grounded in the European Convention, they’re based on the rules and procedure, internal rules of the court.

‘I certainly believe they should not have a legally binding effect under UK law.’

The Government plans to replace the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the ECHR in domestic law, with a new Bill of Rights. Mr Raab said the decision strengthened the case for reform of human rights laws.

Asked if the UK could simply ignore the European court’s ruling, Mr Raab said: ‘Not under the Human Rights Act, but we will address this squarely with the Bill of Rights.’

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘We are going to stay within the convention but make sure the procedural framework is reformed.’

The Government will ‘curtail’ the ability of foreign offenders to claim a right to family life as a reason for being refused deportation and ‘we will stop and change the ability of the Strasbourg court to issue what amounts to effective injunction when they have no power, grounded in the European Convention, to do so’.

Last night government lawyers were examining whether some migrants – such as those who do not claim to have suffered ill-treatment in their home countries – would not be covered by the ECHR injunction’s terms and could still be put on a plane to Kigali.

In an apparent reference to the campaign groups and human rights lawyers who have brought repeated legal actions, Miss Patel told MPs that ‘the usual suspects’ had set out to ‘thwart’ her plan.

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