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Witness for an inquest into migrant’s death faces deportation under hostile Tory regime

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The Tories’ ‘hostile environment’ lies behind the latest threat to migrants, writes Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue 2640
Tory home secretary Sajid Javid
Tory home secretary Sajid Javid (Pic: Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Flickr)

The Tories are trying to deport a witness to the circumstances surrounding the death of a Jamaican man who was being held at an immigration detention centre.

Inquest witness Christopher Richards is booked onto a deportation flight bound for Jamaica. It was scheduled to deport 50 people on Wednesday of this week.

Carlington Spencer, a 38 year old Jamaican migrant, fell ill at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire in September 2017.

He was taken to hospital and received treatment for swelling of the brain, but never recovered. An inquest hearing is scheduled to take place on 3 March.

Former Tory home secretary Amber Rudd had already lied to deport one of the witnesses, but was blocked by the High Court last April.

She resigned the following day amid mounting outrage over the ­treatment of the Windrush generation of migrants.

Her successor Sajid Javid is now trying to regain the initiative after the Windrush scandal put the Tories onto the back foot over immigration. That means dividing people between “good” and “bad” migrants. Anti-racist organisation Stand Up To Racism has spoken out against the deportation.

The Home Office was keen to play up that those facing deportation on the flight have criminal records.

It said, “Foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes in the UK should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them.”


Their convictions are for a range of charges from serious ones such as domestic violence to drug and ­driving offences.

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, said, “I have met many Windrush citizens forced into petty crime.

“This is precisely because of the government’s hostile environment outrageously stripping them of their rights to work, healthcare, housing and benefits.”

Some of those on the flight have never set foot on Jamaican soil. They include people who came to Britain when they were children and the children of Jamaican migrants already living in the country.

One of those facing deportation is Divonte Demetri Fyffe, who moved to Britain when he was three years old.

The resident of Wolverhampton served a two-year sentence for a drug offence he committed when he was 18 years old.

After Fyffe’s release, the immigration authorities told him he no longer had a right to remain in Britain. “I’m scared,” he said. “I don’t know anyone in Jamaica. Who will I stay with? How will I get income?”

He added, “I haven’t reoffended, I wanted to make a change. But I was told I couldn’t work or study, and now this is happening. I made one mistake and I’m still paying for it.”

The migrants’ treatment is a result of the Tories’ policy of creating a “hostile environment” for migrants. Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has pledged to scrap the hostile environment. Her plans include ­shutting Yarl’s Wood and Brook House—two of Britain’s 13 immigration detention centres—and an end to indefinite detention.

Anti-racists should demand the closure of all immigration detention centres, an end to all deportations and for migrants to have the right to stay in Britain.

Support for the Stansted 15

Supporters of the Stansted 15 group of protesters were set to rally outside Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday this week.

The protesters were found guilty under terror legislation after trying to stop a deportation flight.

The Aviation and Maritime Security Act carries hefty sentences—including life imprisonment. The judge was set to decide on Wednesday. The flight that the Stansted 15 tried to stop had 60 migrants on board bound for Ghana and Nigeria.

Eleven are still in Britain as a result of the protesters’ actions.

The End Deportations group called on people to “demonstrate solidarity” and to “demand an end to brutal deportation flights”.

Join protests on 16 March, say unions

Trade unions are throwing their weight behind the Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) national demonstrations in London, Glasgow and Cardiff on Saturday 16 March. They are part of an international day of action.

The CWU post and telecoms workers’ union has called on its workplace reps to support the mobilisations.

“It is vital all CWU branches are represented on the day,” the national union told reps.

The union has sent out materials for CWU members to use in workplaces and on social media to build support for the demonstration.

The demonstation in London is backed by the TUC union federation.

Around 130 anti-racists joined the Scottish SUTR national conference in Glasgow last Saturday.

Delegates showed solidarity with Sheku Bayoh—a man who died minutes after being restrained by Police Scotland officers.

Other themes included organising against the far right on campus and taking on the hostile environment.

With just over a month to go until the demonstrations, it’s crucial that activists organise in their local area to get support out on the day.

For a list of local mobilising meetings go to

Setback for Robinson as far right get more nasty

Former convict Tommy Robinson was barred from Australia last week. It marked a new low for the Nazi, who was hoping to rake in thousands of pounds as part of a far right tour in the country.

His troubles don’t mean that the British far right threat has gone away. James Goddard, known for harassing Tory Anna Soubry outside parliament, is organising “Yellow Vest” protests around Britain.

They only managed 40 in Newcastle last Saturday—and plans to “shut down” Leeds city centre failed.

Supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) were on the streets to oppose them.

The far right has not mobilised large numbers since last summer.

But activists are still buoyed by the racism in society.

And many are becoming more vicious after anti-fascists outnumbered the joint Tommy Robinson/Ukip march last December. Around 150 marched around Trafalgar Square in central London last Saturday.

And around seven far right thugs tried to harass SUTR and Socialist Worker campaigning stalls in Manchester.

The next focus for the far right is likely to be a “Yellow Vest” rally in London on 30 March.

SUTR and Unite Against Fascism have called a counter-mobilisation.

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