The United Kingdom government has proceeded with a deportation flight to Jamaica with what it calls “foreign national offenders” on board, against the backdrop of a legal battle and strong backlash from civil rights organisations.

On Monday evening, Court of Appeal judge Lady Justice Simler ordered the Home Office not to carry out the scheduled deportation of some people amid concerns that mobile phone outages had prevented them from having access to legal advice while in detention in two centres near Heathrow Airport.

On Tuesday morning, a Home Office spokesman said: “We make no apology for trying to protect the public from serious, violent and persistent foreign national offenders.

The case has provoked angry reactions, coming at a time when the Windrush scandal is still fresh in everyone’s memory.

Labour Party Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said some of the detainees arrived in the UK as children and “have no memory” of Jamaica.

A report commissioned by the Home Office, which was leaked last year, reportedly advised the government to consider ending the deportation of foreign-born offenders who arrived in the UK as children.

Earlier reports said 56 people would be deported, but a smaller number left early on Tuesday, leading some to believe the government had respected the court order.

In an interview with Sky News on Tuesday as he defended the move, Chancellor Sajid Javid said he did not know the exact number of people deported, “but I think it’s around 20, above 20.”

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