Windrush scandal was ‘foreseeable and avoidable’ says official report

The Windrush scandal was ‘foreseeable and avoidable’ according to a damning and long-awaited independent report into the Home Office’s handling of the crisis. 

The Windrush Lessons Learned Review concluded that victims had been badly let down because of ‘systemic operational failings’ at the government department. 

It emerged in 2018 that the Home Office had branded thousands of legal UK citizens as illegal immigrants – at least 83 of whom were deported. 

The review was formally submitted to the government yesterday and the Home Office published it this morning. 

Wendy Williams, Independent Adviser for the Windrush Lessons Learned Review said: ‘The Windrush Generation has been poorly served by this country, a country to which they contributed so much and in which they had every right to make their lives. The many stories of injustice and hardship are heartbreaking, with jobs lost, lives uprooted and untold damage done to so many individuals and families.

‘My report sets out how and why this happened and makes recommendations for change to ensure that the injustices this group of people suffered can never happen again. I urge Ministers and officials to implement my recommendations in full.’

The report has made 30 recommendations to ‘change and improve’ the Home Office and its authors are urging ministers to implement them in full. 

The recommendations include that the Home Office must ‘acknowledge its failings’ and ‘open itself up to greater external scrutiny’.

It must also ‘change its culture’ to put people at the heart of migration policy decisions.  

The Empire Windrush was most famous for trips from the West Indies which brought people to work in the UK in the middle of the 20th Century

The Empire Windrush was most famous for trips from the West Indies which brought people to work in the UK in the middle of the 20th Century

The Empire Windrush was most famous for trips from the West Indies which brought people to work in the UK in the middle of the 20th Century

The Windrush Lessons Learned Review was submitted to Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday

The Windrush Lessons Learned Review was submitted to Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday

The Windrush Lessons Learned Review was submitted to Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday

The publication of the report comes after it was claimed in February that the final draft had been altered to remove some of the worst criticism of the Home Office. 

The review had reportedly concluded the department was ‘institutionally racist’ over its ‘hostile environment’ policy. 

The review was commissioned in 2018 after Caribbean migrants were detained or deported despite having the right to remain in Britain.

The report was expected to be published at the end of March last year but has been repeatedly delayed.

Sources told The Times last month that the phrase ‘institutionally racist’ was included in an early draft of the report but no longer appeared in more recent versions. 

The fallout from the Windrush scandal led to the resignation of Home Secretary Amber Rudd in April 2018.

Amber Rudd, pictured in Downing Street in February 2019, resigned as Home Secretary in April 2018 in the wake of the Windrush scandal

Amber Rudd, pictured in Downing Street in February 2019, resigned as Home Secretary in April 2018 in the wake of the Windrush scandal

Amber Rudd, pictured in Downing Street in February 2019, resigned as Home Secretary in April 2018 in the wake of the Windrush scandal

The government faced intense criticism over the ‘hostile environment’ policy championed by then Prime Minister Theresa May.

The term ‘institutional racism’ was famously used in February 1999 to describe Scotland Yard and its response to the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The official review, by Sir William Macpherson, defined the term as ‘discriminating through unwitting prejudice, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping’.  

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