Lucas: May to blame for Windrush scandal

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas has said responsibility for the Windrush scandal falls “squarely on the shoulders of our Prime Minister,” as it is revealed that a number of preventive measures were recommended in a critical report while Theresa May was serving as Home Secretary.

Prime Minister Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May

Image: Raul Mee (EU2017EE) / CC-BY-2.0

Gethin Roberts

The response to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Caroline Lucas confirms that a number of measures that could have had a significant impact on those wrongly targeted in the Windrush scandal were ignored.

The Windrush generation (who came to the UK from Caribbean countries over the years 1948 to 1971) and their children were incorrectly targeted by the government’s policies designed to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country, with some forced out of work, left unable to claim welfare support and even deported.

The Legal Action Group, a charity promoting equal access to justice for all members of society, published its ‘Chasing Status’ report in October 2014, which recommended numerous measures that could have prevented the Windrush scandal.

Suggested measures included setting up a dedicated unit to fast-track the cases of those living in the UK on 1 January 1973, restoring these individuals’ legal aid, and allowing them to work, access the NHS and claim benefits. The report also recommended that the government should revise Home Office standards regarding proof of residence.

In response to Lucas’ Parliamentary Question, Caroline Nokes, Minister of State for Immigration, said “no specific action was taken as a result of this report”.

Nokes also made reference to the Windrush Lessons Learned review, stating that it will “seek to draw out how members of the Windrush generation came to be entangled in measures designed for illegal immigrations; why that was not spotted sooner; and whether the corrective measures are now in place."

Lucas commented: “We now have yet more clear cut evidence that Theresa May as Home Secretary chose to explicitly ignore recommendations that would have prevented much of the damage of the Windrush scandal from happening.

“Responsibility for the Windrush scandal, and the countless lives it has ruined, falls squarely on the shoulders of our Prime Minister – and she must be held to account for this act of great betrayal.

"Corrective measures are all well and good but without a root and branch transformation of both attitude and policy across government, the hostile environment and all its damaging consequences will persist."