Euro judge who blocked UK’s Rwanda flight is ‘from Hungary or Liechtenstein’


Revealed: Anonymous European Court of Human Rights judge who blocked UK’s Rwanda migrant flight was from ‘microstate’ Liechtenstein or Hungary, which was overruled by ECHR last year over its own asylum seeker measures

  • So-far anonymous judge signed off urgent injunction stopping flight to Rwanda
  • The 11th hour order sparked fury from UK politicians, including Home Secretary
  • The European Court of Human Rights has so far refused to name signing judge
  • According to the Telegraph, only three judges can sign-off such interim orders
  • One is British, but was ‘barred’ because order was against the UK Government
  • Other two judges are reportedly from Hungry and principality of Liechtenstein 

The European Court of Human Rights judge who effectively blocked the UK’s migrant flight to Rwanda is either from Hungary or Liechtenstein, it is understood.

The anonymous judge signed off an urgent 11th hour injunction from the ECHR to an asylum seeker set to be flown to Rwanda – despite UK courts saying the flight could go ahead.

All migrants were removed from the plane at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire on Tuesday night after the court granted an urgent interim measure in regards to the Iraqi national.

The decision prompted fury from a number of Conservative politicians, while Home Secretary Priti Patel, described the European Court of Human Rights intervention as ‘very surprising’.

Then in another surprise move – which has prompted an open justice row – The ECHR refused to reveal the identity of the judge who signed off the injunction.

A spokesman for the ECHR – which was founded by the Council of Europe and has no relation to the EU – previously told MailOnline they would not be naming the judge, claiming this was their policy on interim injunctions such as these. 

Some had questioned whether Russian judge Mikhail Lobov, who remains a sitting judge on the Strasbourg court despite Russia being expelled in March from the Council of Europe, may have been the one that signed the order – something the ECHR categorically denied.

However, according to the Daily Telegraph, such measures can only be signed off by one of three judges.

One of these is British judge Tim Eicke QC from Britain, who was reportedly barred from hearing the case because the challenge was being brought against the UK Government.

According to the paper, this means the only remaining judges able to sign off the injunction was Peter Paczolay – Hungary’s appointment who was a former head of the Office of Hungary’s President – and Carlo Ranzoni, from Liechtenstein.

Peter Paczolay (pictured) - Hungary’s appointment who was a former head of the Office of Hungary’s President

Carlo Ranzoni (pictured),from Liechtenstein

According to the Daily Telegraph, interim measures can only be signed off by one of three judges. One of these is British judge Tim Eicke QC from Britain, who was barred from hearing the case because the challenge was being brought against the UK Government. According to the paper, this means the only remaining judges able to sign off the injunction was Peter Paczolay (pictured left) – Hungary’s appointment who was a former head of the Office of Hungary’s President – and Carlo Ranzoni, from Liechtenstein (pictured right)

The so-far anonymous judge signed off an urgent 11th hour injunction from the ECHR to an asylum seeker set to be flown to Rwanda – despite UK courts saying the flight could go ahead. Pictured: Members of the staff board a plane reported by British media to be first to transport migrants to Rwanda, at MOD Boscombe Down base in Wiltshire

Migrants landing in Britain will ‘refuse’ to board Rwanda flights

By Jack Wright for MailOnline 

A family of six migrants including four children has today landed on Britain’s shores as fears mount that Priti Patel‘s deportation flights to Rwanda will not deter people from crossing the Channel after European judges blocked the first migrant flight to east Africa.

The Border Force ship Hurricane brought the migrants ashore in Dover, Kent this morning, with more expected throughout the day.

Last night dozens of migrants including small children landed in Dungeness, after nearly 680 migrants made the journey from France in the past two days.

Yesterday, more than 230 migrants were brought ashore at Dover – the day after 444 people arrived in Dungeness, Dover and Ramsgate in 11 small boats on the biggest day of crossings this year since April 14, when 562 landed on British shores, official figures show.

The majority of people brought ashore in Dover on Wednesday were men aged from their late teens to their 30s or 40s but there was also a number of women and young children. The countries of origin of the people coming ashore included Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt.

The influx is thought to be due to low winds, calm waters and clear skies – but is likely to be viewed in some circles as evidence that the Government’s flagship migrant policy is failing to deter crossings.

Suleiman, an Afghan in his 20s who fled the Taliban and travelled through Iran and Turkey to get to the UK to join his brother in London, said he thought the Rwanda policy would not discourage would-be migrants from attempting to reach the UK.

‘I am not worried [about being sent to Rwanda] because I have family here so I should join my family. We came from Afghanistan. We came all the way through Iran and Turkey and some other countries and now we reach here to have our rights,’ he told The Times.

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Hungary has recently faced criticism of its human rights and asylum policies. Earlier this month the country was convicted of inhuman and degrading treatment of an Iraqi refugee family.

The family, who had reportedly been forced to leave Iraq after the Kurdish father had allegedly been tortured by the national security services, was detained in the transit zone between Serbia and Hungary for more than four months in 2017.   

The ECHR, in a ruling published earlier this month, criticised the treatment of the family. 

They also said the use of handcuffs and leash on the husband while he accompanied his wife to hospital had amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The country, whose right-wing populist party led by Viktor Orbán, has also faced criticism from groups such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.

And it has faced a fine from the EU Court of Justice – a separate court to the ECHR which rules on EU law – over breaches.

It also faces possible action on media freedom and free expression related to LGTBQI rights.

The court has also challenged Hungry’s asylum policy. Last year it ruled that large-scale pushbacks introduced by legislation in 2016 violated Hungary’s obligation to ensure effective access to international protection for asylum seekers.

In 2021, more than 71,000 pushbacks took place at the Serbian-Hungarian border. 

Meanwhile, Liechtenstein, is a principality or ‘microstate’ with a constitutional monarchy. It has a population of around 38,000 – the same population as a medium UK town.

According to reports, the country takes in just a handful of asylum seekers each year and that figure dropped during 2020 when Covid was at its height.

The country has a ‘population of concern’ including 138 refugees, 23 asylum seekers and one stateless person, according to a 2021 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),

It comes as ministers today turned their ire on the United Nations over the failure of a plane carrying deportees to Rwanda to take off due to a European court.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is said to be examining Britain’s funding for the UNHCR in the wake of Tuesday’s embarrassment.  

Its opposition was cited by the ECHR in its eleventh-hour intervention that grounded the aircraft at the MOD’s Boscombe Down base.

The UNHCR has said Rwanda, whose own human rights record is under scrutiny, does not have the capacity to process the claims, and there is a risk some migrants could be returned to countries from which they had fled.  

Some had questioned whether Russian judge Mikhail Lobov (pictured), who remains a sitting judge on the Strasbourg court despite Russia being expelled in March from the Council of Europe, may have been the one that signed the order - something the ECHR categorically denied

Some had questioned whether Russian judge Mikhail Lobov (pictured), who remains a sitting judge on the Strasbourg court despite Russia being expelled in March from the Council of Europe, may have been the one that signed the order – something the ECHR categorically denied

A spokesman for the ECHR - which was founded by the Council of Europe and bears no relation to the EU - previously told MailOnline they would not be naming the judge, claiming this was their policy on interim injunctions such as these

A spokesman for the ECHR – which was founded by the Council of Europe and bears no relation to the EU – previously told MailOnline they would not be naming the judge, claiming this was their policy on interim injunctions such as these

Before the flight took off, High Commissioner For Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters: ‘We believe that this is all wrong…for so many different reasons.

‘The precedent that this creates is catastrophic for a concept that needs to be shared like asylum.’ 

Regarding funding, a Whitehall source told the Times: ‘We’re looking into it. It’s a lot of money to give an organisation that spends so much time trying to undo our policies. They must have spent a fortune on lawyers for the role it has played in the courts over the last few days.’

It came as Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the ECHR should not have intervened to over-rule UK court decisions.

His comments came after Tory MP Mark Francois, chair of the Eurosceptic ERG group also slammed the decision. 

He said: ‘Now that we have left the EU it is deeply frustrating to see another group of European judges – sometimes even anonymous ones – telling us how to run our own country.’

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is said to be examining Britain's funding for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the wake of Tuesday's embarrassment.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is said to be examining Britain’s funding for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the wake of Tuesday’s embarrassment.

Its opposition was cited by the European Court of Human Rights in its eleventh-hour intervention that grounded the aircraft at trhe MOD's Boscombe Down base.

Its opposition was cited by the European Court of Human Rights in its eleventh-hour intervention that grounded the aircraft at trhe MOD’s Boscombe Down base.

It came as Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the ECHR should not have intervened to over-rule UK court decisions.

It came as Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the ECHR should not have intervened to over-rule UK court decisions.

Before the flight took off, High Commissioner For Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters: 'We believe that this is all wrong...for so many different reasons.'

Before the flight took off, High Commissioner For Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters: ‘We believe that this is all wrong…for so many different reasons.’

The row has led to calls from some Tory MPs to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the document interpreted by the court in Strasbourg – something which No 10 and Attorney General Suella Braverman have not ruled out, although it appears unlikely the Government would want to take such a drastic step.

Ministers have been told future flights may be delayed for up to a year amid interventions by the European Court of Human Rights.

The court could use temporary injunctions to roadblock the flights for several months to come.

The Justice Secretary said the UK would stay within the convention but new laws could ensure that interim measures from the Strasbourg court could effectively be ignored by the Government.

He told Times Radio: ‘In relation to the latest intervention from Strasbourg, so-called Rule 39 interim orders, which are not grounded in the European Convention, they’re based on the rules and procedure, internal rules of the court.

‘I certainly believe they should not have a legally binding effect under UK law.’

The Government plans to replace the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the ECHR in domestic law, with a new Bill of Rights. Mr Raab said the decision strengthened the case for reform of human rights laws.

Asked if the UK could simply ignore the European court’s ruling, Mr Raab said: ‘Not under the Human Rights Act, but we will address this squarely with the Bill of Rights.’

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘We are going to stay within the convention but make sure the procedural framework is reformed.’

The Government will ‘curtail’ the ability of foreign offenders to claim a right to family life as a reason for being refused deportation and ‘we will stop and change the ability of the Strasbourg court to issue what amounts to effective injunction when they have no power, grounded in the European Convention, to do so’.

Last night government lawyers were examining whether some migrants – such as those who do not claim to have suffered ill-treatment in their home countries – would not be covered by the ECHR injunction’s terms and could still be put on a plane to Kigali.

In an apparent reference to the campaign groups and human rights lawyers who have brought repeated legal actions, Miss Patel told MPs that ‘the usual suspects’ had set out to ‘thwart’ her plan.

A family of six people has been brought ashore in Dover this morning, at least the second ship to bring people into the Kent port today.

A family of six people has been brought ashore in Dover this morning, at least the second ship to bring people into the Kent port today.

Defending the contrast between the Rwanda plan and the visa scheme welcoming Ukrainians, Mr Raab said refugees from Afghanistan and Syria need to be vetted in a different way from those from Ukraine because of a ‘history and track record of terrorism’ in the Middle Eastern countries.

Asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain whether Afghan and Syrian refugees are a greater risk to the UK than Ukrainians, the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary said: ‘Well, look, if you look at the history and track record of terrorism across these areas, clearly in Afghanistan we’ve got al-Qaida and all of the Taliban challenges that we’ve seen over many years.

‘If you look at Islamic State, Daesh in Syria, of course there’s a specific set of security situations which are different.

‘Even in relation to Ukraine with the number of mercenaries flowing into Ukraine, we also need to be careful there.

‘But the types and the way you conduct those (security) checks will differ.’

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