Government must stick to its promises in wake of Windrush scandal, PM told

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Rishi Sunak has been urged to keep promises made to victims of the Windrush scandal or risk looking like their suffering was in vain and the hostile environment they faced still exists.

A letter signed by survivors, campaigners, athletes and actors has been sent to the Prime Minister branding progress on the commitments to right past wrongs “painfully slow”.

The letter is due to be delivered to Downing Street on Thursday – which it said marks the fifth anniversary of the exposure of the scandal.

Dame Denise Lewis is among the signatories to a letter sent to the Prime Minister over slow progress on Windrush promises (John Walton/PA)
Dame Denise Lewis is among the signatories to a letter sent to the Prime Minister over slow progress on Windrush promises (John Walton/PA)

The scandal erupted in 2018 when British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation, despite having the right to live in Britain.

Many lost homes and jobs, and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.

Solicitor Wendy Williams published her Windrush Lessons Learned Review in 2020, making 30 recommendations – all of which were originally accepted by former home secretary Priti Patel.

But in January it was confirmed that Suella Braverman had dropped a commitment to establish a migrants’ commissioner, and had chosen not to increase the powers of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration or to hold reconciliation events with the Windrush community.

It said: “In the three years since the Review, progress on all fronts has been painfully slow.

“The Windrush compensation scheme remains bureaucratic and overly complicated. It is unconscionable that some Windrush victims who should have been compensated, died before their cases were resolved and payments made. Many others are still fighting to receive their payments.

“Instead of scrapping key commitments, we urge your government to stick to the promises made – there is still an opportunity to show that you and your ministers are serious about righting past wrongs.

“To do anything less sends a clear message that the suffering of the Windrush generation was in vain and the hostile environment still exists.”

The Black Equity Organisation (BEO), a civil rights group launched in May 2022 to tackle racism in the UK, said it wants to bring a legal challenge against Ms Braverman, saying her decision to ditch three recommendations had added insult to injury for victims of the scandal.

Ms Williams, appearing before a Home Affairs Committee session in March, said she had been surprised by the decision to drop three recommendations, having not been consulted by the Home Office before the announcement was made.

Dr Wanda Wyporska, BEO chief executive, said: “The Home Secretary’s decision to disregard three of the report recommendations is an echo of the very insensitivity cited in the Williams Review.

“Victims have been campaigning for years for justice. They’ve been fighting to have their voices heard and their cases resolved.

“The Home Secretary’s decision has shown that allowing the Home Office to be in charge of cleaning up its own mess and recompensing the Windrush generation would result in the internal needs of the department trumping those of the victims.

“The Home Office must be opened up to independent scrutiny and forced to honour the promises made in its name. Windrush survivors have been through enough and this latest twist in a shameful story adds insult to injury.”

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