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A TRADE union representing Border Force staff has threatened to seek a court injunction to forcibly stop the Home Office from ordering Channel pushbacks if the ministry fails to suspend the tactic.
It comes after it was reported the government had attempted to deploy the tactic twice last month.
The government said the only reason it did not turn around small boats in the Channel was because there were no crossings on those days, according to the Times.
Civil Service union PCS and Care4Calais have expressed outrage at the Home Office’s decision to press ahead with the policy despite both groups having launched a legal action last month challenging the legality of the tactic.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The arrogance of this government is breathtaking.
“The legality of the pushbacks policy is before the High Court, and yet the ministers think they can instruct our members to carry out a morally reprehensible and potentially unlawful act.”
The two organisations’ legal case argues that there is no basis in domestic law for the Home Office to carry out pushbacks and that the policy would endanger the lives of both refugees and Border Force staff.
Jeremy Bloom, solicitor for the claimants at Duncan Lewis solicitors, said: “We hope that the Home Office will suspend the policy until the court decides on its lawfulness, but should it refuse to do so, we will proceed with an application for an injunction.”
It comes as the body of a Sudanese man in his 20s was pulled out of the Channel on Friday after he attempted to make the crossing in sub-zero conditions, French authorities said.
The death is the first to be reported in the Channel since November when at least 27 people drowned after their boat sank off the coast of France.
Amnesty International UK Refugee and Migrant Rights director Steve Valdez-Symonds said: “Once again someone has lost their life in tragic and avoidable circumstances, and our thoughts are with the family and friends suffering this devastating loss.
“This tragedy is made all the more unbearable because of the refusal of governments on both sides of the Channel to address the needs and rights of people compelled to attempt these dangerous journeys.”
Care4Calais has warned that the use of pushbacks in the Channel could make the crossing even more deadly for refugees.
The Home Office is facing a total of three legal challenges over the policy.
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