Windrush campaigners urge Government to ‘fix injustice’ after report finds Home Office broke equality law

Sophia Sleigh
·3-min read
The 'Empire Windrush' arriving from Jamaica, 1948 (Daily Herald Archive/SSPL via Getty Images)
The 'Empire Windrush' arriving from Jamaica, 1948 (Daily Herald Archive/SSPL via Getty Images)

Windrush campaigners today told the Government to “fix the injustice” they created with their immigration policies after a damning report found they broke equality law.

The equalities watchdog has found that the Home Office unlawfully ignored warnings that the “hostile environment” policy would create “serious injustices” for the Windrush generation.

Arthur Torrington, chair of the Windrush Foundation, told the Standard that the report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission [EHRC] was “no surprise”.

He said: “The Government really and truly has to come to a stop now and to be called discriminatory. It can’t get worse than that now. They discriminated. But they began the process more than 70-years ago.”

He said the Windrush generation had been treated like aliens, adding: “Even the Windrush scandal now – those people threatened with deportation were treated as aliens and that is so wrong.”

He said victims had been left with “trauma” and called on the Home Office to “speed up” the compensation process.

He added: “The conclusion of the commission should be clear and unquestioned.

“The Government should finally decide to fix the injustice they have caused and have no excuse whatsoever. It should be fixed immediately because there are people still suffering.”

The hostile environment policy started in 2012 under former home secretary Theresa May and was designed to make staying in the UK as difficult as possible for those who do not have leave to remain.

<p>David Lammy said the Government must “urgently rectify this gross injustice”</p>Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd

David Lammy said the Government must “urgently rectify this gross injustice”

Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd

The EHRC report found that problems caused by the policies were "repeatedly ignored, dismissed or their severity disregarded".

Shadow justice secretary David Lammy, who organised a cross-party letter referring the Home Office to the EHRC last year, said: “Black Britons were detained, deported, denied healthcare, housing and employment by their own government because of the colour of their skin.

“Since the scandal broke, the Home Office has only paid lip service to its victims. It must now urgently rectify this gross injustice.”

Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said: "This is a yet another damning indictment of the hostile environment. For nearly a decade Conservative governments were warned about their discriminatory immigrations policies, but they were content to ruin lives presiding over the ‘avoidable’ Windrush scandal.

"The Government must be given no choice but to comply just like any other individual or organisation that has broken our laws. The hostile environment must be brought to an end."

Caroline Waters, interim chair of the EHRC, said the Home Office has until January to produce an action plan.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for StreathamPA
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for StreathamPA

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “The Home Office knew that the community most likely to be affected by this policy were black people from Commonwealth countries, including the Caribbean, and they simply failed to create a policy that was fit for purpose.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft said in a statement: "We are determined to right the wrongs suffered by the Windrush generation and make amends for the institutional failings they faced spanning successive governments over several decades.”

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