A flight deporting convicted criminals to Jamaica left the UK with just four on board after 33 others were granted a last-minute legal reprieve.
The Home Office said four criminals were deported and returned to Jamaica on Wednesday after 33 legal challenges stopped offenders from boarding the flight.
Thirteen of those challenges were made in the 24 hours before the flight left the UK.
The criminals who were returned to Jamaica had sentences totalling 16 years and three months, the Home Office said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she “makes no apology for removing foreign nationals who have committed crimes which will have had a devastating impact on their victims”.
The offenders are understood to have been convicted of serious crimes including child sex offences, murder, kidnap, firearms, and drug offences.
All 37 criminals had a combined total sentence of 127 years, the Home Office said.
Ms Patel said: “I make no apology for removing foreign national offenders who have committed crimes which will have had a devastating impact on their victims.
“The people removed to Jamaica today are convicted criminals who have been found guilty of a range of serious offences. They have no place in our society.
“It is absolutely galling that, yet again, last-minute legal claims have stopped the removal of 33 people, including those guilty of abhorrent crimes such as murder and child sex offences.
“This is why our Nationality and Borders Bill will deliver changes to the law to make it easier to remove foreign criminals and prevent them from gaming the broken system.”
Earlier this week, reports emerged that activists from “Stop the Plane” were protesting against the deportation flight.
The activists reportedly locked themselves to metal pipes outside an immigration removal centre near Gatwick Airport over concerns the criminals were members of the Windrush generation.
But the Home Office said extensive checks were carried out to ensure none of those being deported were British citizens, British nationals or from the Windrush generation.
Seth Ramocan, Jamaica’s high commissioner in London, said last week he was concerned some of the criminals had been in the UK since they were children and have no known relations in Jamaica.
Ten out of 17 Jamaicans detained for the flight had allegedly lived in the UK since they were children, a Movement for Justice survey found.
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