The home secretary is being urged to apologise for telling MPs deportees on a charter flight to Jamaica were all guilty of “very serious crimes” such as murder and rape after his department was forced to admit this was not the case.
MPs, campaigners and detainees themselves have united in condemnation of Sajid Javid after it emerged that among those flown to the island on 6 February were people who had committed single drug or dangerous driving offences.
In a heated debate in parliament on 5 February, Mr Javid claimed all deportees were all convicted of “very serious crimes … like rape and murder, firearms offences and drug-trafficking”.
However, the Home Office said on Wednesday that of the 29 people deported, just one had been found guilty of murder, while 14 had been convicted or drug offences and one was jailed for dangerous driving.
Detainees who narrowly avoided deportation said they felt they had been “labelled” for crimes they didn’t commit, while relatives of deportees expressed fear that people in Jamaica would give their loved-ones a hostile reception because they had all been dubbed as serious criminals.
Labour MP David Lammy called on the Mr Javid to apologise, accusing him of “deporting first and asking questions later“ without considering whether the public interest in the removals was greater than the harm caused to those deported and their families.
Vance Brown, the father of Chevon Brown, 23, who was placed on the flight after serving a seven-month sentence for a driving offence – the only crime he has been convicted of – said he felt “sick to his stomach” by the home secretary’s claims.
The 48-year-old, who had to arrange for his son to be picked up by a friend in Jamaica, said: “[The government] has got no morals. It is so harsh. How can they said about so else’s child when it’s a lie?
“Chevon was caught in the bee’s mouth – the belly of the bee – only for a driving offence. So when Javid said it was murderers and rapists on the plane, that made me sick to my stomach. It’s deplorable.
“He misled the public. It’s very hard to digest that, coming from the home secretary.”