Charter flights to deport illegal immigrants 'cost £14m'


Illegal immigrants have reportedly been deported from Britain on charter flights at a cost of £14 million, including a trip said to have carried a single Moroccan.

The figure covers the 18 months to June this year, and comes after a Home Office contractor was forced to apologise for transporting a party of asylum seekers within the UK in a stretch limo.

Fifty-four private jets have been used to deport almost 3,000 people, the Daily Mail reported after a freedom of information request.

The Home Office said charter flights are used in cases where illegal immigrants are being flown to destinations which have little availability on scheduled routes, and are generally used to deport those who pose a risk to the public.

A spokesman told the Mail: "Those with no right to be in the UK should return home.

"We expect and will help people to leave the country voluntarily. Where they do not, we will seek to enforce their departure.

"When returning people, we always consider the availability of scheduled aircraft routes, the cost of maintaining their detention, and the individual circumstances of each case.

"Charter flights are used to return illegal immigrants to destinations which have a limited number of scheduled flights or where scheduled flights have an insufficient capacity to meet demand. In general, they are used to remove those with a history of non-compliance or who pose a risk to the public.

"We have legislated to make it harder for people to lodge spurious appeals and will go further in our new Immigration Bill."

One flight to Kabul in Afghanistan carried 11 people, while a 265-seat plane took 25 Nigerians home, the paper reported.

Earlier this week Home Office contractor Serco admitted it had made a "clearly inappropriate" decision to hire a limo to take seven Africans from London to Manchester.

A spokeswoman said: "There was no additional cost to the taxpayer. We have apologised to the Home Office and our internal processes have been changed to ensure that this will not happen again."