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Calls to ‘strip' Home Office of Windrush compensation administration

A report from a global human rights organisation has revealed victims of the Windrush scandal are still being subjected to long waits and subject to being underpaid for their compensation claims. From left, Windrush campaigners Michael Anthony Braithwaite, Janet Mckay-Williams, Auckland Elwaldo Romeo, Glenda Caesar, Patrick Vernon and Dr Wanda Wyporska pose for photograph as they hand in a letter to Downing Street, in London, Thursday April, 6, 2023. (Kin Cheung, AP)
Cormac Pearson, PA

A report from a global human rights organisation said the administration of the Windrush compensation scandal should be “stripped” from the Home Office and given to an independent body.

The report from Human Rights Watch revealed victims are still being subjected to long waits and their claims are underpaid.

The Home Office told the BBC it was “committed to righting the wrongs of Windrush”.

It said it had paid or offered more than £68 million in compensation and it was committed to making sure something like Windrush will never be repeated.

The HMT Empire Windrush first docked in England 75 years ago, bringing legal immigrant workers from the Caribbean to help fill post-war labour shortages.

Five years ago it was revealed thousands of immigrants had been incorrectly classed as illegal.

People affected by the scandal arrived to the UK between 1948 and 1971, when immigration laws changed in the UK.

Those who were incorrectly classed as illegal immigrants, who were also from countries outside the Caribbean, struggled to find work, housing, access healthcare and in some cases people who had lived their whole lives in the UK were deported.

Human Rights Watch said victims should be granted legal aid for compensation applications and that there was an unreasonable burden of truth placed on the victims.

The Black Equity Organisation echoed calls from Human Rights Watch, with chief executive Dr Wanda Wyporska saying the Home Office “must be stripped of the administration of the compensation scheme”.

Dr Wyporska said: “The report confirms the worst fears of the Windrush victims and survivors, that the institutional prejudice, ignorance, carelessness and inhumanity that drove the scandal, would resurface if the Home Office were allowed to manage the compensation scheme, and sadly, that has proven to be the case.

“The Department has created a process that is so bureaucratic and complicated, that some Windrush victims have died before they could successfully complete it.”

The report also said victims do not feel they would get a fair hearing at the Home Office as it is the agency responsible for the scandal.

“To add insult to unimaginable injury, surviving claimants have been prevented from getting the legal aid they urgently need to help complete the process and begin to rebuild their lives,” Dr Wyporska added.

“We are calling for an independent body focussed on the needs of victims to be appointed and Windrush survivors must be able to access legal aid.

“It is unforgiveable that the horrific damage done to the Windrush generation is being compounded by the gross mismanagement of the scheme created to help them.”

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