Minister defends Boris Johnson’s attack on lawyers over Rwanda policy

Lawyers have reportedly received death threats after the Prime Minister suggested they were ‘abetting’ criminal gangs.

17 June 2022

A business minister has defended Boris Johnson’s assertion that lawyers attempting to block the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda were “abetting” criminal gangs, saying this would be the “net result” of their work.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly hit out at those bringing the legal challenges that effectively grounded the first flight to Kigali this week.

Lawyers have reportedly received death threats after Mr Johnson suggested they were effectively “abetting the work” of people smugglers.

Government minister Paul Scully said he did not “recognise the link between the two”.

He told Times Radio: “We want to put in a robust system that actually works because people, time and time again, at the ballot box have always said that mass migration in this way needs to be tackled.

“We feel that we’ve done it in a fair way and in a reasonable way, and no court as yet has ruled that Rwanda deal unlawful.”

When asked whether the Prime Minister’s comment was appropriate, Mr Scully said: “I think the net result is that if we are blocking measures to tackle the situation in the Channel then, invariably, human traffickers will continue to apply their hideous trade and push people onto small dinghies and risking their lives.”

On Tuesday night, judges at the European Court of Human Rights granted an injunction that effectively grounded the first flight to send asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda.

Three of the asylum seekers set to be on the plane to Kigali had their removal blocked by the Strasbourg-based court.

The last-ditch legal rulings sparked calls by some Tory MPs to pull Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights which the court rules on, though it appears the Government is not willing to take such a drastic step.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has suggested the UK will stay within the convention but new laws could ensure that interim measures from the Strasbourg court could effectively be ignored by the Government.

The grounding of the flight came after a series of legal challenges in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the asylum seekers due to be sent on the one-way trip to the east African nation.

The court battles mean there is uncertainty over when any further attempts to fly asylum seekers to the African country will be made, although Home Secretary Priti Patel said the Government “will not be deterred from doing the right thing, we will not be put off by the inevitable last-minute legal challenges”.

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