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Home Office reveals £2.45 million bill for cancelled flights

The ‘fruitless payment’ relates to seats on scheduled services that went unused after individuals facing removal were granted the right to appeal.

Taxpayers were left with a bill of nearly £2.5 million after flights booked by the Government to remove asylum seekers were cancelled.

The sum relates to seats on scheduled services that went unused after individuals facing removal were granted the right to appeal.

Details of the costs were registered in the Home Office’s annual report for 2017-18.

It said a “fruitless payment” of £2.45 million was incurred by the department “as a result of the cancellation of scheduled flights intended to remove ineligible asylum seekers, which were subsequently cancelled due to asylum seekers being granted the right to appeal”.

The figure was up compared with the previous year, when it stood at £2.1 million.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The Home Office, like all government departments, should be looking to cut out frivolous spending where they find it.

“Taxpayers will want to know why the costs continue to be so stubbornly high and if better forward planning could reduce the need for so many cancellations.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Removals of people here illegally are paid for by the Home Office and utilising scheduled flights is cost-effective and often the only way of doing this.

“Last minute injunctions can result in removals being cancelled with no option for the Home Office to claim back the cost of the flight ticket.

“We would reiterate that any steps to challenge a person’s removal from the UK should be taken at the earliest possible opportunity, by the individual or their professional advisers, to prevent unnecessary public expense.”

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