It is reported that scores of Sri Lankans, due to have been deported from the UK on a government charter flight last afternoon, have had their removal orders overturned by high court judges.
About 40 failed asylum-seekers - most of whom are thought to be Tamils - were granted dramatic last-minute stays.
Immigration lawyers ascribe the judges' apparent change of heart to serious concerns over Sri Lanka's human rights record.
The judgements affected around half of the estimated 70 to 80 Tamils due to have been sent back to Sri Lanka.
Two senior barristers with the London-based Renaissance Chambers, which specialises in human rights and immigration law, say the judgements are rather unusual.
Yesterdays flight was the fifth British government charter flight to Sri Lanka since June last year. The flights are shrouded in secrecy and the UK Border Agency has a policy of not commenting on them.