Priti Patel on Friday night hit back at attempts by 82 black public figures to halt the deportation of up to 50 Jamaican criminals next week, saying she was "unapologetic" about removing people who posed a risk to the public.
The 82, including Naomi Campbell, the historian David Olusoga and actors Naomie Harris and Thandie Newton, have written to airlines urging them not to carry the Jamaicans the Home Office wants to deport. They claimed that if next week's and other similar flights went ahead there was a risk of the unlawful removal of people who have the right to remain in the UK.
However, Ms Patel's department issued a breakdown of the 50 Jamaicans' criminal records, which comprised a combined total prison sentence length of 294 years including two life sentences counted as 20 years each.
The 50, whose offences included murder, rape drug dealing, child sex, grievous bodily harm, firearms possession, importing drugs, manslaughter and attempted murder, had an average sentence length of eight years and two months.
The Home Office disclosed that a number of individuals had already been removed from the manifest due to appeals by specialist legal firms.
Ms Patel said: "These dangerous foreign criminals have no place in our society, and I will not compromise the safety and security of the British people by letting them stay in our country.
"The British public rightly expect foreign national offenders to be removed from our country. These people have violated our laws and values, and I am unapologetic in my determination to remove these convicted foreign rapists, murders, and child sex offenders from our country."
Since April, the Home Office has run more than 30 enforced returns and deportation charter flight operations to countries including Albania, France, Germany, Ghana, Lithuania, Nigeria, Poland and Spain. One per cent of enforced returns in 2019 were to Jamaica.
A spokesman said: "The Home Office is working to ensure these routes to Europe, Africa, and elsewhere in the world including Jamaica are more regular, sending a clear message to dangerous foreign criminals – if you break our laws, you will be removed."