Letter: Changes are vital after Jamaica flight

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The Independent Online
Sir: The inquiries in Jamaica by your correspondent Peter Pringle (report, 18 January) are disturbing confirmation of the concerns of those of us who protested during the holiday period at the treatment of hundreds of Jamaican holidaymakers who had come here perfectly legally to celebrate Christmas with family and friends.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion reached in your leading article (18 January) that the action 'looks like racial discrimination'. That unavoidable verdict can be only a matter of shame to every decent person in this country.

When I sought to highlight the plight of the Jamaican visitors during a trip to their detention centre on Christmas Eve, I repeated the call which I had made a day earlier in a letter to the Prime Minister for a public inquiry into the operation of our immigration rules. My intervention was not on behalf of any individual, but in support of a principle. While recognising the right of any state to control immigration, it is incumbent on it to ensure that the relevant rules are fair, just and non-discriminatory in their application. No one can be satisfied that the treatment of this particular flight from Jamaica passed that test.

Either the behaviour of immigration officers on that occasion was in accordance with the law, in which case the law must be changed; or it reflected their own practice, in which case such practice must be changed. Either way, change is an urgent necessity.

Yours sincerely,


General Secretary, Transport

and General Workers Union

London, SW1