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Rwanda: Protesters blockade Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centres at Heathrow and Manston as flight grounded

The first Rwanda deportation flight will not take off after last-ditch legal challenges.

The decision comes after demonstrators stopped vehicles leaving a immigration facility at Manston, while others locked themselves together with metal tubes at Heathrow in a bid to halt the scheme.

Two people have been arrested at the protests. Photo: Stop Deportations
Two people have been arrested at the protests. Photo: Stop Deportations
Protesters at Manston processing centre Picture: @candyspets2
Protesters at Manston processing centre Picture: @candyspets2

After various failed legal challenges the government was set to fly a small group of asylum seekers to the African country tonight but a series of 11th hour rulings from the European Court of Human Rights meant there would have been no passengers..

The controversial plan is an effort to get a handle on spiralling Channel crossings which have already surged past 2020's total and are set to match last year's figure of 30,000.

Once in Rwanda people will be able to apply for asylum but even if successful will not be allowed to return to the UK.

At around 6pm at Manston dozens of protesters mobbed vehicles said to be transporting asylum seekers to London but there are not thought to have been any arrests.

At Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, Heathrow, Stop Deportations said five people were set to be driven on a coach to Stansted before being flown to Kigali on a plane set to leave at 10.30pm.

Other sources claimed the Boeing 767 was due to depart from MOD Boscombe Down in Amesbury near Salisbury.

Protesters at the centre had laid across access roads but some suggested asylum seekers had still been spirited away from the site through an alternative exit which they weren't aware of.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Police were called at 5.12pm today to reports of a group of protesters blocking the A4 Colnbrook Bypass.

"Officers remain at the scene and road closures are in place. Two people have been arrested."

One protester said: "This policy is the result of years of portraying migrants as less than human beings; it makes it possible for the Home Office to inflict pain on them and get away with it.

"We demand that the Rwanda Asylum plan is scrapped and will continue to take to the streets until this demand is met."

The flight was then thrown into doubt after an intervention by the European Court of Human Rights following an appeal from lawyers representing one of those set to be deported.

By 10pm only one person was set to leave on board the 200-capacity plane and soon after it was confirmed the flight would not be taking off.

It is believed the government will have to await the outcome of a court case into the scheme next month.

Stop Deportations protesters Picture: Stop Deportations
Stop Deportations protesters Picture: Stop Deportations

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "We will not be deterred from doing the right thing and delivering our plans to control our nation’s borders.

"Our legal team are reviewing every decision made on this flight and preparation for the next flight begins now."

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