Leaked Windrush report says government must review deportations, days before flight to Jamaica due to depart

Home Office urged to put removal flight on hold until full Windrush review is published

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Friday 07 February 2020 01:51 GMT
MPs Nadia Whittome and Dawn Butler raise point of status of people on next week’s deportation flight to Jamaica

Ministers should consider ending the practice of deporting people who arrived in the UK as children, according to the much-anticipated Windrush report, which has been leaked days before dozens of people are set to be removed on a controversial charter flight to Jamaica.

The Home Office is being urged to put the deportation flight on hold until the review, commissioned in the wake of the Windrush scandal, is published and the recommendations are implemented after it emerged that people set to be removed may be allowed to stay once this process is complete.

A draft copy of the Windrush Lessons Learned review, obtained by Labour MP David Lammy, states that the government should “consider ending all deportation of foreign national offenders where they arrived in the UK as children”.

A number of individuals scheduled to be deported on the flight to Jamaica, set to depart on 11 February, are known to have lived in the UK since they were children.

In one case, a man who came to Britain aged 11 and has a young British baby has been issued deportation orders on the basis that he was convicted under the “now unlawful joint enterprise rule” 10 years ago, for which he spent two months in prison.

In another, Joseph Nembhard, 38, who arrived in the UK when he was 17, told The Independent he felt “heartbroken” at being split from his partner and children – aged five and eight months – after he was detained and issued deportation orders due to an alleged assault several years ago.

Separately, Carline Angus, whose son is due to be deported after being in Britain since he was five on the basis that he was convicted of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply as a teenager, told Newsnight she believed he would be allowed to stay when they recommendations from the Windrush report were implemented.

“My son came here when he was five, so why is he in this category? I think he should be given a chance. If you don’t give him a chance to rehabilitate himself, how can he learn? He made a mistake, he apologised for it, he’s moved on,” she said.

“I think they should deport people with the most serious offences, yes. [My son] made a stupid mistake when he was 17, 18. A lot of 17, 18-year-olds don’t know what they’re doing.”

It comes as the Home Office admitted there had been a mobile phone outage at Heathrow detention centres since 13 January, making it difficult for detainees to access legal advice and challenge deportation orders.

The department failed to take remedial action for 23 days, during which charter flights to Nigeria and Ghana and France departed from the UK – raising questions about whether those deportees had effective rights to legal representation.

MPs Nadia Whittome and Dawn Butler raise point of status of people on next week’s deportation flight to Jamaica

Responding to the leaked Windrush report, Mr Lammy said: “It’s a scandal that the government is blocking and acting against its own Windrush Lessons Learned Review. The deportation flight to Jamaica next week must be cancelled. No more deportations until the review’s recommendations are implemented.”

The draft copy of the review states: “Government should review its policy and approach to foreign national offenders, if necessary through primary legislation. It should consider ending all deportation of foreign national offenders where they arrived in the UK as children (say before the age of 13). Alternatively, deportation should only be considered in the most severe cases.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office said it did not comment on leaked reviews, adding: “The planned charter flight to Jamaica is specifically for removing foreign criminals. Those detained for removal include people convicted of manslaughter, rape, violent crime and dealing class A drugs.”

Bella Sankey, the director of Detention Action, said that among ​those set to be deported were clients who had lived in the UK since the ages of five and eight. They had all their families in the country – most of them British citizens – and almost no connection to Jamaica.

“It’s shameful that the government has suppressed the Windrush report while scheduling next week’s mass deportation flight to Jamaica,” she said. “We now know that one of the key recommendations of the review is that the automatic deportation of those that come to the UK as children should end.

“Yet Tuesday’s flight is full of such people, who, like so many of our clients, have deep roots and families in the UK. This cruel policy is double and discriminatory punishment, it rips children from their parents and causes deep and lifelong trauma. After the scandal of Windrush, government must now make amends to the communities it has shamefully scapegoated.”

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