Search begins as Jamaicans fail to join charter flight

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The Independent Online
MORE THAN 100 people yesterday failed to turn up for the return of their Christmas holiday charter flight from Jamaica, the Home Office said, writes Heather Mills.

But only seven Jamaicans on the flight - targeted by immigration officials as part of an unprecedented immigration crackdown - - were being treated as illegal immigrants.

A Home Office spokeswoman said efforts were being made to locate and deport the seven, while it was presumed that most of the others - entitled to stay in the United Kingdom for up to six months - would make their way home on later scheduled flights. Some were UK residents, taking advantage of a cheap flight and only using the ticket one way.

The seven people were among 190 Jamaicans who were originally detained by immigration officials when they arrived at Gatwick just before Christmas.

In the biggest mass expulsion of Jamaican visitors, 28 were returned on a Home Office-chartered plane amid claims of racism from immigration welfare groups and opposition MPs.

Of the 190 who were detained before Christmas, most were eventually allowed to enter as visitors with the right to stay in the UK for up to six months. But some - like the seven who failed to show up yesterday - were given limited entry and should have reported for the return flight.

Leading article, page 15

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