Home Office accused of ‘gagging’ Windrush victims with fast track pay outs
The Home Office has been accused of ‘gagging’ victims of the Windrush scandal in exchange for quick compensation, despite promising not to do so.
The Independent reports that a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) has been imposed on at least one person affected and at least one more has been approached.
Sajid Javid has been criticised for admitting in a letter to the Home Affairs Committee that his department is ready to pay out immediate compensation if threatened with “possible legal action” – despite promising transparency to MPs last month.
The letter says the offers are “sometimes accompanied by confidentiality clauses, depending on individual circumstances”, adding: “Where we consider that the department has erred, we will seek to reduce any further distress for the claimant by making an offer of compensation, rather than continue through a lengthy legal challenge.”
“I can confirm that Windrush generation cases are sometimes addressed through this route.”
However it comes just three weeks after the Home Secretary told the same committee: “No one will be asked to sign any kind of non-disclosure agreement or anything like that.”
The scandal, uncovered earlier this year, sparked major criticism of the UK’s treatment of long-standing British citizens who arrived from the Caribbean decades ago and a wider critique of the “hostile environment” approach to immigration.
Labour MP and Committee chair Yvette Cooper said she was “extremely concerned” by the latest revelation.
She said: “The Home Secretary has assured us that the Home Office will be transparent over Windrush – but using NDAs to hide things that have gone wrong cannot be justified. We will continue to pursue this.”
Her colleague David Lammy, who has been a vocal supporter of those affected by the Windrush scandal, told the Independent: “It is totally unacceptable to gag vulnerable citizens in this way. Windrush victims have the right to fair compensation at the same time as the right to speak out.
“Forcing victims to sign non-disclosure agreements contradicts Sajid Javid’s statement and is an appallingly cynical way to handle the crisis.”
The Tottenham MP said Mr Javid appeared to have “gone back on his promise”, adding: “The home secretary, who promised to ‘do right’ by the Windrush generation, has a lot of explaining to do.”
The paper reports that the Home Office suggested Mr Javid’s comments to the select committee were referring to the approach of the official compensation scheme.
Asked if he had misled MPs, a spokesman said: “The Home Secretary and the immigration minister have said that they want to give the Home Office a more human face and it is a priority to right the wrongs that have occurred.
“We have a dedicated and hardworking team of caseworkers who are committed to providing a high level of service with often complex cases.”