AMID all the fuss over the coronavirus, there was little media attention paid to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review published by Wendy Williams after 20 months of intense inquiry into the scandal and why it happened.

You may recall the original story – the Home Office wrongly decreed that thousands of UK residents were in the country illegally.

People were deported to countries they had left as children to come to the UK, many as much as 50 years earlier. Others were detained in immigration removal centres as a result of colossal errors by Home Office staff. Many of the Windrush people lost their jobs because they were wrongly told that they didn’t have the right to work. Then they were denied benefits, despite almost all having paid tax and national insurance for many years. Some ended up on the streets, and many were denied NHS treatment.

The scandal was exposed by the press in 2018 and then-home secretary Amber Rudd had to resign, although much of the “hostile environment” policy happened on former prime minister Theresa May’s watch.


AN Inspector of Constabulary, Williams was appointed as the independent reviewer to examine the main legislative, policy and operational decisions that led to the scandal of the Windrush injustice.

While finding that there was not institutional racism at the Home Office in the accepted sense of those words, Williams concluded a there had been a “profound institutional failure”.

She wrote: “When successive governments wanted to demonstrate that they were being tough on immigration by tightening immigration control and passing laws creating, and then expanding the hostile environment, this was done with a complete disregard for the Windrush generation …

“I have serious concerns that these failings demonstrate an institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation within the department, which are consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism.”

But she went further and spoke directly to people who suffered the horrendous consequences of the Government’s “hostile environment” immigration policies. These individual accounts have been largely ignored, but The National believes their stories should be read.


GLORIA, a married mother of three, came to the UK from St Kitts on her own passport as a 10-year-old. Her mother died shortly after Gloria’s arrival and she was brought up by her older sister.

During this time, social services were involved with the family due to their ages and Gloria believes her passport was taken from them at this time and not replaced. She worked as a care worker for people with learning difficulties and mental health issues. In 2011, she lost her job when her application to renew her criminal record check failed because she didn’t have a British passport.

Despite letters from her MP and the Department for Work and Pensions, it took seven years for Gloria to establish her identity. When she went to the Windrush Taskforce, she was astounded when everything was sorted out within an hour. She wasn’t asked for any more documents to prove her status.

Now 59, Gloria has suffered from stress and can’t work. She has claimed benefits, but has come close to losing her home and relies on family handouts. Her daughter interrupted her university course to work to help pay Gloria’s mortgage.


MR A spent two spells totalling around five weeks in immigration detention centres. In December 2017, he was scheduled to be removed to Jamaica, a country the now 61-year-old grandfather hadn’t seen for 52 years. In 2015, he had applied for leave to remain in the UK, but despite producing evidence of being in the country for 40 years, the Home Office refused his application in December of that year, and told him he could no longer work in the UK.

Because of problems with establishing his status, he lost his job as a decorator in 2015 and couldn’t work for nearly three years. The struggle to prove his legal status has left him and his family heavily in debt, as well as counting a heavy emotional and psychological cost.


PAULINE came to the UK as a 12-year-old in 1961, joining her mum and step-dad. She settled in Manchester, married, had seven children and qualified as a social worker. In 2005, she and her daughter went on a two-week holiday that became an 18-month nightmare.

She was detained in Jamaica and refused re-entry to the UK. She’d always travelled on her Jamaican passport without any problems and never thought to apply for British citizenship, thinking of herself as British already.

While in detention, she nearly died after falling into a diabetic coma. She also lost her home and her livelihood. An immigration solicitor helped her get back to the UK in 2007, after her family helped gather the documents she needed.


MR B, who’d been in the UK since 1968 and worked as a lorry driver for 40 years, lost his job in 2014 when he couldn’t produce the photographic driving licence his employer had asked for.

He needed a UK passport but couldn’t get one, despite providing his children’s papers, pension records and wage slips. After losing his home, he had to live in a factory unit. Four years without earnings have forced him to access his pension early.

Sadly, these stories are only the tip of the iceberg.

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