Virgin airlines has said it will no longer assist the Home Office in deporting people classed as illegal immigrants, following pressure from LGBT campaigners and rising unease over the wrongful removal of Windrush people to Caribbean countries.
Virgin Atlantic said it had already informed the Home Office of its decision, which it said was taken “in the interest of all our customers and staff”. Migrant rights campaigners said the announcement reflected “a profound shift in public opinion on deportation since the emergence of the Windrush scandal”.
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, admitted last month that at least 63 Windrush generation people had been wrongly removed to the Caribbean, despite having lived in the UK since before 1971, and consequently eligible for British citizenship.
The decision emerged after campaigners from an LGBT campaign group working on securing migrant rights contacted Virgin, pointing out that the company’s decision to sponsor next week’s Pride march in London was at odds with its policy of helping the government deport asylum-seekers. Virgin is understood to have removed some LGBT asylum seekers to countries where same-sex relationships are illegal.
Sam Bjorn, a spokesperson from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, said: “Virgin’s role in enforcing deportations has been devastating to people taken, against their will, to countries where they risk persecution, or have very little connection to. Not only did the airline unflinchingly put people’s lives in danger for many years, it also made their staff unwillingly complicit in the brutality of the UK’s hostile environment policy. Read more via the Guardian