Rescued at the 11th hour from the Home Office’s handcuffs
Last-gasp appeal stopped former child slave from being forced to fly to Jamaica
13 March, 2020 — By Calum Fraser
The gathering at Islington Town Hall
ONE of the men who was rescued from deportation by a dramatic last-minute legal appeal spoke at a rally in Islington, giving a harrowing account of his experience at the hands of the Home Office.
Lennox Jay appeared at the Stand Up to Racism Islington branch event at the Town Hall on Friday, describing the pain of seeing his father shot when he was seven, enslavement in Jamaica and then repeated efforts by the British government to deport him.
On February 11, Mr Jay had been handcuffed and crammed into the back of a “freezing” Serco van in the “pitch dark”, he said, before being driven to Heathrow Airport.
The Home Office had booked him onto a chartered flight to Jamaica, a place he fled almost 20 years ago after he was tortured as a child.
He was saved by an 11th hour Court of Appeal ruling which deemed his deportation unlawful on the grounds that he, along with a few other detainees, had not had access to working mobile phones to call solicitors and family.
Mr Jay, 46, told the Tribune he was “happy” the court decision had saved him, but this gradually subsided as he was kept in the back of the van for 14 hours before he was taken back to the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in west London.
Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the meeting on Friday
He told the meeting on Friday that violence and suicide were rife in the detention centre.
His father was shot in the head in Kingston, Jamaica, while walking along a street with Mr Jay when he was just seven.
Mr Jay was later forced to become a child slave after being orphaned, his solicitors later told the Tribune. Growing up in Jamaica, he was shot in the chest, stabbed and had boiling water poured on his stomach, scorching the skin.
He fled Jamaica and moved to Islington in 2001, where he met and married a woman and had two children. His application to the Home Office for the right to work remained pending for five years.
“I got involved with the wrong crowd,” Mr Jay, who was using a pseudonym to protect his identity, told the Tribune. He was later sentenced to six years for false imprisonment, blackmail and assault.
“I did the crime and I served the time,” Mr Jay said. “I tried to train myself in prison so I could come out and work. I got qualifications in bricklaying and painting.”
But after his release in 2014, he was then pursued by the Home Office.
He told the Tribune: “I want to work. It’s been hardwired into me from years of slavery. I want to be a productive member of English society, but the Home Office will not let me work. In Jamaica, I experienced physical torture but here it has been mental torture.”
Mr Jay and his fellow detainees became known as the “Jamaica 50”. He is currently challenging his deportation order through his lawyers at Duncan and Lewis.
Speaking at the meeting on Friday, Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, said: “The treatment of immigration detainees and the stress that they go through is horrendous.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We make no apology for seeking to remove dangerous foreign criminals and will continue to fight robustly to ensure they are removed as quickly as possible. The legal process for removing these criminals, which has included repeated appeals and judicial reviews, has already cost the British public tens of thousands of pounds.”