Windrush: Fareham and Waterlooville MP Suella Braverman threatened with legal action for refusing to implement all reforms
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The Black Equity Organisation (BEO) is seeking a judicial review following the Fareham and Waterlooville MP’s announcement in January. Not all of the reforms recommended in the independent Windrush inquiry are being established.
The Windrush scandal started in 2018 and concerned people wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office – with victims unjustly arrested, denied legal rights and threatened with deportation despite having the right to live in Britain. Many victims lost homes and jobs, and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.
The recommended pledges which are being scrapped include establishing a migrant’s commissioner, running reconciliation events and increasing the powers of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (ICIBI). A letter signed by survivors, campaigners, athletes and actors has been sent to the Prime Minister branding progress on the commitments to right past wrongs ‘painfully slow’.
It’s due to be delivered to Downing Street today – marking the fifth anniversary of the exposure of the scandal. It will be handed in alongside a petition signed by more than 50,000 people urging the home secretary to rethink her decision.
The letter described the axing of recommendations as a ‘kick in the teeth to the Windrush generation, to whom our country owes such a huge debt of gratitude’. It read: ‘In the three years since the Review, progress on all fronts has been painfully slow. The Windrush compensation scheme remains bureaucratic and overly complicated.
‘It is unconscionable that some Windrush victims who should have been compensated, died before their cases were resolved and payments made. Many others are still fighting to receive their payments.
‘Instead of scrapping key commitments, we urge your government to stick to the promises made – there is still an opportunity to show that you and your ministers are serious about righting past wrongs. To do anything less sends a clear message that the suffering of the Windrush generation was in vain and the hostile environment still exists.’
Signatories include actor David Harewood, singer Beverley Knight and former athletes Dame Denise Lewis and Colin Jackson. All of the 30 recommendations in the 2020 Windrush Lessons Learned Review, published by solicitor Wendy Williams, were originally accepted by former home secretary Priti Patel.
The BEO – a civil rights group which tackles UK racism – said legal action was necessary as Ms Braverman’s decision to scrap the three pledges added insult to injury for victims. Chief executive Wanda Wyporska said the Home Office must be opened up to independent scrutiny.
She added: ‘The Home Secretary’s decision has shown that allowing the Home Office to be in charge of cleaning up its own mess and recompensing the Windrush generation would result in the internal needs of the department trumping those of the victims.’
Ms Williams, appearing before a Home Affairs Committee session in March, said she was surprised by the decision to drop the three recommendations and not being consulted by the Home Office before the announcement. A Home Office spokesman told Sky News they are ‘absolutely committed to righting the wrongs of Windrush’ – paying and offering over £64m in compensation and ‘making good progress’ towards the vast majority of recommendations from Wendy Williams' report.