Windrush report author ‘delighted’ after court ruling on ditched recommendations

All recommendations arising from an independent review into the Windrush scandal must be brought in “without further delay” to ensure justice is served, the solicitor behind the report into the Government’s handling of the situation has said.

Wendy Williams said she was “delighted” by a High Court ruling on Wednesday that a decision to drop some of the 30 recommendations was unlawful.

Windrush victim Trevor Donald, 68, brought legal action against the Home Office over the decision not to proceed with all of the recommendations made to the Government by a review launched in the wake of the scandal.

People aboard the Windrush
People from the Caribbean answered Britain’s call to help fill post-war labour shortages (Alamy/PA)

Ms Williams published her Windrush Lessons Learned Review in 2020 and all 30 recommendations were originally accepted by then-home secretary Priti Patel.

But in January 2023 it was confirmed that Suella Braverman, who was in post as home secretary by that stage, had dropped three.

The Windrush scandal – which campaigners have since said should be known as the Home Office 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.

The three recommendations dropped by the Home Office during Ms Braverman’s time in office were: a commitment to establish a migrants’ commissioner; to increase the powers of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (ICIBI); and to hold reconciliation events.

In her judgment, Mrs Justice Heather Williams ruled that dropping two of the recommendations – related to the migrants’ commissioner role and the ICIBI – had a “disproportionately prejudicial effect upon Windrush victims” and indirectly discriminated against them.

The judge also said it was unlawful and “conspicuously unfair” for the ICIBI recommendation to be shelved without consulting Windrush community representatives and Ms Williams.

She said: “I conclude that an inference can be drawn from the evidence before the court that the decision not to proceed… was a matter of considerable concern and hurt to a significant number of Windrush victims, given, in particular, that a cause of the scandal was a failure to listen to the voices of those from the Windrush community.”

The Home Office said it is “carefully considering” the judgment.

Ms Williams, in a statement to the PA news agency after the ruling, said: “I’m pleased that I was able to provide information for the JR proceedings and delighted that Mrs Justice Williams has ruled that the decision not to proceed with all 30 of my recommendations was unlawful.

“I hope the Government, and Home Office, will now ensure that all my recommendations are implemented without further delay, so that those affected by the Windrush scandal can fully receive the justice they deserve.”

Mr Donald, who was born in Jamaica in 1955, arrived in the UK in 1967 and lived here for the next 43 years.

Having visited Jamaica in 2010, he was refused entry when he attempted to return to the UK and at that point, his lawyers state, he became a Windrush victim.

He was eventually allowed to re-enter the UK following the emergence of the scandal in 2018 and was recognised as having indefinite leave to remain, before being granted British citizenship in January 2022.

In her judgment, Mrs Heather Justice Williams noted Mr Donald “missed critical moments in the lives of his children and lost his council flat and most of his possessions”.

A further hearing is now expected to consider any damages due to Mr Donald.

Dr Connie Sozi, solicitor for Mr Donald, said the judgment “gives the Government, yet again, an opportunity to do the right thing and properly ensure that it has learned lessons from the past”.

She suggested the Government could “show its commitment” to doing this by implementing all three recommendations.”

She suggested an inquiry could be needed into the scandal.

She said: “The ease at which the Government could renege (on previously accepted recommendations) suggests a stronger form of accountability is needed into the Windrush scandal.

“That would be through an inquiry. Whether it’s the current Government or the next, public interest would be served by this.”

Black Equity Organisation’s (BEO) chief executive Timi Okuwa said after the ruling: “With Windrush Day on Saturday, we remember and stand with all Windrush scandal victims, survivors and their descendants.

“Therefore, BEO welcomes today’s decision that confirms that Suella Braverman’s decision to drop these recommendations was unlawful.

“We are especially pleased that Mrs Justice Williams recognised the discrimination of the Windrush generation in her judgment.

“We are committed to working with the next government to ensure that all the Williams Report recommendations are fully implemented. The work isn’t done.

“We will continue to hold public institutions to account to ensure that institutional racism is eradicated from our society.”

Following the ruling, Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The hostile environment had devastating consequences for those affected by the Windrush scandal.

“Rather than learning the lessons, the Government’s response has been dire.”

She continued: “No government is above the law.

“Thankfully the then-home secretary’s been caught bang to rights.

“Ministers must treat all people with dignity and respect, and act with integrity.

“The hope is the next government will act quickly to make amends to this disgraceful chapter in our history.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are carefully considering the judgment and will respond in due course.”

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