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'Grave risk' of Windrush-style scandal happening again unless Home Office takes action, says author of review

'The Home Office has a very stark choice,' says Wendy Williams

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 22 June 2020 01:51 BST
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Related video: MPs Nadia Whittome and Dawn Butler raise point of status of people on deportation flight to Jamaica
Related video: MPs Nadia Whittome and Dawn Butler raise point of status of people on deportation flight to Jamaica (Getty)

The Home Office has been warned there is a “grave risk” of something similar to the Windrush scandal happening again if ministers fail to implement the recommendations set out in an independent report.

Wendy Williams, who authored the comprehensive Lessons Learned Review into the scandal, also said the compensation scheme for victims “is not demonstrating the benefits that it should” in a warning to the government.

Her intervention comes after victims of the Windrush scandal delivered a petition to No 10 last week urging the government to speed up the implementation of all the recommendations made in the review written by Ms Williams.

Monday also marks 72 years since the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks on 22 June 1948 carrying some 500 people from Jamaica.

Published in March, the review into the scandal set out 30 recommendations to “right the wrongs”, including a programme of reconciliation events between the Home Office and the Windrush generation, and training for departmental staff to ensure awareness of the UK’s colonial history and that of black Britons.

Others included a “full review and evaluation” of the hostile environment policy devised under Theresa May’s tenure at the Home Office and the introduction of a migrants’s commissioners responsible for speaking up for those affected by the system directly, or indirectly.

Speaking to the The Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4, Ms Williams said: “The Home Office has a very stark choice. It can decide not to implement my recommendations and if that happens then I think there is a very grave risk of something similar happening again.

“Given the experiences that the Windrush generation have had, given the care and attention that was taken over the review and that went into the recommendations that I made, I think now is the opportunity for the Home Office to make good on its stated commitment to learn the lessons from Windrush and I think everybody is looking to them to demonstrate that they have done that.”

Asked whether the Windrush generation were getting the justice they deserve, Ms Williams added: “I have done a couple of events with individuals from the Windrush generation since my report was published and the messages that I’m receiving loud and clear is that the compensation scheme at the moment is not demonstrating the benefits that it should and what I have encouraged people to do is to make sure firstly that they submit their applications for compensation without day.

“The next thing is for the Home Office to ensure that the compensation scheme is operating effectively, that applications are processed quickly and that where they can, they make interim payments and that the claims are dealt with sensitively and that they do as much outreach as they can to get the message out to people who have been affected so they can get the compensation they deserve.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Secretary has been clear that the mistreatment of the Windrush generation by successive governments was completely unacceptable and she will right those wrongs.

“The Windrush Compensation Scheme made the first payment within four months of opening and has offered claimants over £640,000 in the first year.”

Immigration lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie also meanwhile said: “The Windrush Compensation Scheme has been designed sufficiently well, with policy underpinning it that will ensure victims can get the compensation they deserve.

“It is important that people are paid quickly and I am pleased that the Home Office is working with organisations to discuss how they can continue to increase the pace of resolving claims and paying compensation.”

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