Hijackers win court appeal

PUBLISHED: 11:57 10 August 2006 | UPDATED: 21:15 29 May 2010

NINE Afghan men who hijacked and flew a plane to Stansted Airport in 2000, won their High Court Appeal battle last Friday to stay in the UK. It followed an appeal by Home Secretary John Reid who appealed against the decision to give them discretionary lea

NINE Afghan men who hijacked and flew a plane to Stansted Airport in 2000, won their High Court Appeal battle last Friday to stay in the UK.

It followed an appeal by Home Secretary John Reid who appealed against the decision to give them discretionary leave.

The men, who originally hijacked the Boeing 727 in Afghanistan in February 2000 flying it to Stansted Airport were convicted for doing so in December 2001.

The hijackers were then freed two years later with an appeal court ruling that they had done so under duress.

Although the Afghans could not be deported due to human rights issues, the Home Office's barrister argued that immigration powers could impose "temporary admission" status on them and also curb their freedom.

Judge Mr Lord Justice Brooke said the Home Secretary's refusal to grant the nine Afghans any more than temporary admission to the UK effectively condemned them to a twilight zone.

Last Friday's High Court appeal heard Mr Lord Justice Brooke say: "Mr Justice Sullivan had been right to rule that the Home Secretary had no power, without parliament's authority, to keep the nine on temporary admission status."

Mr Justice Sullivan had ruled the Home Secretary's decision as unlawful saying he considered that the status of temporary admission or temporary release was one which would never be sanctioned in that context.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis labelled the problem as the Government's "own creation" saying: "These hijackers committed serious crimes, which should make them incompatible with refugee status.

"They should have been deported in 2004, especially since thousands of allied troops remain in Afghanistan maintaining the peace."

The nine asylum seekers apologised to passengers on the flight they hijacked for the fear they had caused and in a statement in May they said they were desperate to work and contribute to UK society.

In response to the judgement, Mr Reid said that the men's presence was "undesirable".

He said he would continue to believe that those whose actions have undermined any legitimate claim to asylum should not be granted leave to remain in the UK.

Speaking about Mr Sullivan's original ruling last May, which was met much criticism the appeal judge said: "We commend the judge for an impeccable judgement."

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