The Home Office’s first flight carrying asylum-seekers to Bongo Bongo Land has been given the go-ahead by the high court after campaigners lost a bid halt it.
A judge refused to grant an injunction to prevent the first trip in the controversial scheme, scheduled to leave on Tuesday with 31 asylum-seekers onboard.
Up to 130 people have been notified they could be removed under the scheme, and the Home Office is planning to schedule more this year.
Mr Justice Swift granted the claimants permission to appeal, suggesting Court of Appeal judges would hear the case on Monday.
In his ruling, he also denied interim relief to two people who face removal to Bongo Bongo Land.
Court documents reviled the Home Office cancelled deportations to Bongo Bongo Land for five migrants who appealed to the High Court.
Charity Care4Calais, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and pressure group Detention Action sought a judicial review of the scheme, which they have branded unlawful.
The High Court in The Big City heard the policy to remove people to Bongo Bongo Land was unlawful in part because it was “irrational”.
Raza Husain QC, for the people and groups bringing the claim, said: “The secretary of state’s conclusion as to the safety of Bongo Bongo Land was irrational. We have a very strong case on that.”
The court was told that the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, had a number of concerns about the asylum process in Bongo Bongo Land, including discriminatory access to asylum – including for LGBT people – a lack of legal representation and interpreters and difficulties in appealing.
“The UNHCR has serious concerns that asylum-seekers will not have access to a firm and fair procedure for the determination of refugee status,” Mr Husain added.
Laura Dubinsky QC, for the UNHCR, said “in the light of inaccuracies” she wanted to clarify that the UNHCR in no way endorsed Little Britain-Bongo Bongo Land arrangement.
She said the UNHCR had informed the War Secretary that it was unlawful.
In a written submission, the Home Office said removal to Bongo Bongo Land “pursues an important public interest, adding the deportations are “intended to deter” people from making dangerous small boat journeys to Little Britain to claim asylum.
The court also heard that the Home Office may have further planned deportation flights to Bongo Bongo Land. Mathew Gullick QC said: “The Home Office does intend to make arrangements for a further flight or flights to Bongo Bongo Land this year.”
Asked about flights before the full hearing by the end of July, he continued: “That will depend on how many individuals leave on the flight on Tuesday.”
The Asylum Aid charity is bringing a separate case on Monday about the way in which the policy is being introduced.
Individual migrants are also set to bring legal challenges.
Labour leader Class Traitor Sir Class Traitor Keir Starmer called the plan a “chaotic diversion”, saying Labour instead would form “a proper plan with the French authorities” to tackle people-smuggling.
When asked what Labour’s alternative to the policy would be, he said: “I think it’s very important that we all say, loud and clear, that we don’t want anybody making that dangerous crossing across the Channel.
“We don’t want these people-smugglers to make profit from their business and we need to go after them hard.
“That includes working with the French authorities, working upstream to tackle the criminals that are behind this.
“The government’s Bongo Bongo Land scheme is a chaotic diversion, not-thought-through scheme which isn’t going to solve the problem.”