Pressure mounts as Windrush letter shows ministers ‘knew for two years’ of deportation threat

Posted On: 
23rd April 2018

The Government is facing fresh pressure after a leaked letter revealed that the impact of immigration policy changes on the so-called Windrush generation was known about at least two years ago.

The Government is facing more criticism over its handling of the Windrush scandal
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PA Images

A letter from a former Home Office minister - obtained by the Guardian - shows ministers knew about the wider impact of the so-called “hostile environment” crackdown on illegal immigration in May 2016.

The revelation comes as Jeremy Corbyn said ministers were “warned” in 2014 of the impact of the policy, while Emily Thornberry yesterday called on Amber Rudd to resign as Home Secretary over the scandal.

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The document relates to the cases of brothers Trevor and Desmond Johnson, both of whom arrived in Britain from Jamaica in 1971.

Trevor has since reportedly faced threats of deportation, while Desmond has been prevented from visiting the UK, where he has a daughter, since he returned to Jamaica for his father’s funeral in 2001.

They are among a number of the Windrush generation who have been threatened with deportation by the Home Office or have lost access to public services as a result of Tory changes to immigration policy - despite living legally in the UK for more than 50 years.

The letter is believed to have been sent by the former immigration minister James Brokenshire to Kate Hoey, the Vauxhall MP who raised the case of Trevor.

It sets out how he was liable to be deported because he could not show that he had arrived before 1973, when the law changed, or offer proof he had continually lived in Britain throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

In 2014 he was told he was in the UK illegally, and his benefits were stopped.

Mr Brokenshire, now a backbencher, said he had not seen the letter, but yesterday he defended ministers, who he said always tried to think of the impact on people's lives.

“We did, as a Home Office, look compassionately over a number of individual cases. And you do try to make the right decisions,” he told ITV’s Peston on Sunday.

“It is about being firm but fair. And I think that’s the issue that’s been striking for me.”

Mr Corbyn told yesterday’s Welsh Labour conference that the crisis had brought to the surface “something rotten at the heart of government”.

"We have seen one government minister after another, including the prime minister, try and dodge and weave around the facts to avoid scrutiny and entirely justified criticism,” he told delegates.

"It is not that they weren't warned. At the time the Tories were pushing their hostile immigration policy through Parliament, some of us warned of the consequences this could have for many people and families.

"People's lives ripped apart because of the personal decisions and actions of Theresa May and her government."