Windrush row: Home Office probing more than 100 cases
More than 100 Windrush cases are now being looked into by the Home Office, it has emerged, as Labour accused Theresa May of trying to “shift the blame” over her handling of the controversy.
Changes to migration rules mean that some members of the so-called Windrush generation - who came to the UK from the Carribean before 1971 as part of a post-war rebuilding effort - have been threatened with deportation by the Home Office and lost access to public services.
Under mounting political pressure, Home Secretary Amber Rudd this week announced that a new team had been set up in the Home Office to assist those worried about their own status.
The department has now revealed that a total of 113 cases are being looked into - with 49 reported on the first day of the team’s existence.
The figures were released amid a political row over the destruction of landing records for Windrush citizens who arrived in the UK before 1971 - with Labour accusing the Government of changing its story "by the hour".
During Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, the Prime Minister sought to wrong-foot Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn by saying that "the decision to destroy the landing cards was taken in 2009 under a Labour government".
However, a Downing Street spokesman then said the "operational decision" to dispose of the documents was taken by the UK Border Agency - meaning it would not have come across the desk of the then-Labour Home Secretary.
They later added that the "business case" for disposing of paper records was taken in June 2009 - with a further decision coming in 2010, under the Conservative-led government.
“In October 2010 the operational decision was taken in relation to the specific registry slips themselves," the spokesperson said. "The Prime Minister was not involved in this process, this was an operational decision taken by UKBA."
A Labour spokesperson attacked Number 10's handling of the issue, and accused the Prime Minister of seeking to "shift the blame".
They said: "At PMQs, the Prime Minister tried to shift the blame onto the last Labour government but was undermined by her own spokesperson minutes later, who then stated it was an operational decision, which Labour ministers would not have been aware of. Her spokesperson couldn't even say when the cards were destroyed.
"In the confusion, one thing is already clear: the change in the law in 2014 that meant members of the Windrush generation faced deportation and the loss of their rights, including to healthcare, was made in full view of the fact that the vital information had been destroyed."
Meanwhile the Home Secretary is set to face fresh questions from MPs over the affair next week, with the Home Affairs Committee - chaired by Labour's Yvette Cooper - expected to quiz Amber Rudd on Wednesday.
"We have a series of questions - both on why this has happened and on what is being done to resolve the problem," Ms Cooper said.
"I would encourage anyone who has either relevant personal experience or wider evidence on what is happening to get in touch with the committee clerks."