Fury over revelation that Home Office destroyed thousands of Windrush landing cards

Posted On: 
18th April 2018

The Home Office is facing fresh pressure after it emerged thousands of documents relating to the Windrush generation were destroyed by the department in 2010.

The Windrush children came in the first wave of migration from the Commonwealth
Credit: 
PA Images

An ex-Home Office staffer said a horde of landing card slips recording the arrival dates of immigrants were culled in an office move, according to the Guardian.

Officials are urgently looking into almost 50 new cases in the scandal, in which British residents who came from the Caribbean some 70 years ago - often on their parents' passports - have been hit by changes to immigration rules.

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Some have been threatened with deportation, while others have lost out on healthcare, employment and housing because they could not prove their status - despite having lived legally in the UK for decades.

Yesterday Theresa May was forced to apologise to Commonwealth leaders over the debacle, but the revelation about the destroyed landing cards - during her tenure as Home Secretary - has thrown the Government into renewed chaos.

Labour said it was “truly shocking” that the department had binned records that could have protected immigrants - but the Home Office said the claim was misleading.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott fumed: “The Windrush generation have been threatened with deportation because they cannot provide documents, but now we learn that the Home Office destroyed the very records that could have demonstrated their right to remain."

The anonymous former Home Office employee said managers were warned that destroying the cards could make life harder for older Caribbean-born residents struggling to prove their right to live in the UK.

But the department said it would be “misleading and inaccurate” to suggest the landing slips would be used in immigration cases.

A spokesperson insisted their destruction was “operational” and taken by UK Border agency officials rather than Mrs May.

"Registration slips provided details of an individual's date of entry, they did not provide any reliable evidence relating to ongoing residence in the UK or their immigration status,” they said.

"So it would be misleading and inaccurate to suggest that registration slips would therefore have a bearing on immigration cases whereby Commonwealth citizens are proving residency in the UK."

QUESTIONS OVER AMBER RUDD

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Amber Rudd is said to be under pressure from colleagues to get a firmer grip on her department, according to the Times.

The paper says some Brexit supporters in the Cabinet are deliberately trying to exacerbate the issue to undermine her.

One minister argued it would be “fair to say she hasn’t got her bit between her teeth in the Home Office,” while another added: “She’s a great communicator but not a great doer.

“The Windrush affair would not have happened under Theresa. Nick Timothy [Mrs May’s former chief of staff] would have been all over it.”

It follows embarrassment for Ms Rudd last week when she said she had not seen a leaked Home Office report which appeared to link police cuts to the rise in violent crime.