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British government hires private jet to deport hunger-striker Isa Muazu

A Nigerian asylum seeker on hunger strike at a UK immigration detention centre is due to be forcibly deported early morning, Friday 29 November.

Phil Miller
28 November 2013

Protesters at Air Charter Scotland's offices, East Kilbride, 28 November (Unity)

The UK Home Office is hiring a private jet to deport hunger-striker Isa Muazu to Nigeria on Friday morning, campaigners have told Corporate Watch. The flight number EDC684 is registered with Air Charter Scotland Ltd, an aviation firm whose small fleet includes the business magnate Lord Sugar's plane.

An independent medical assessment deemed Muazu unfit to fly, owing to his 90-day fast in protest at the Home Office's treatment of his asylum claim. He says he fears persecution from militant Islamist group Boko Haram if returned to Nigeria.

The Home Office had planned to deport Muazu on a Virgin Atlantic flight last night. However the ticket was cancelled for reasons that remain unclear. Campaigners claim their pressure may have caused Virgin to pull out, and now urge supporters to lobby Air Charter Scotland.

Protesters from Unity Centre Glasgow and Student Action for Refugees gathered outside the company's East Kilbride offices this afternoon. Meanwhile in London campaigners have called an emergency vigil outside the Home Office from 17.30 tonight.

According to Air Charter Scotland's twitter account the company flew singer Mary J Blige to Lagos, Nigeria in September. They were less forthcoming today, refusing to say whether or not their clients included the Home Office.

Air Charter Scotland's fleet has only a couple of aircraft capable of carrying out a deportation flight. One of these, a Legacy 650, is Apprentice star Lord Sugar's private plane. Another, a Legacy 600, is the same model of aircraft used to deport radical preacher Abu Qatada to Jordan, estimated to have cost the Home Office more than £50,000 to hire.

Guards on Home Office flights are supplied by Tascor, the company formerly known as Reliance, which took over the Home Office deportation business from G4S after the unlawful killing of asylum seeker Jimmy Mubenga during a botched deportation attempt. Tascor is part of the gigantic outsourcer Capita.

Medical personnel on deportation flights are supplied by the Armatus Medical Services, part of Armatus Risks, whose directors boast experience in the Royal Military Police, the Coldstream Guards and military-security contracting to United States forces in Iraq.


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