Home secretary threatened with legal action for refusing to implement all Windrush reforms

A civil rights group has threatened legal action against the home secretary for refusing to implement all of the recommendations of the independent Windrush inquiry.

The Black Equity Organisation (BEO) is seeking a judicial review following Suella Braverman’s announcement in January to disregard three of the 30 reforms the government agreed to implement.

The scrapped recommendations were to establish a migrant’s commissioner, run reconciliation events and increase the powers of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (ICIBI).

In legal papers sent to Ms Braverman, the charity called the decision “unlawful” and a “chilling attempt” to limit scrutiny of the Home Office.

BEO chief executive Dr Wanda Wyporska 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 Office must be opened up to independent scrutiny and forced to honour the promises made in its name.

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“Windrush survivors have been through enough and this latest twist in a shameful story adds insult to injury.”

The action comes as communities mark five years since the exposure of the Windrush scandal.

In April 2018 it emerged that hundreds of British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation, despite having the right to live in the UK.

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, Ms Braverman said she would be dropping three of the commitments, saying there were “more effective ways” to engage with victims than through reconciliation events, and that external bodies were “not the only source of scrutiny”.

As well as the legal action, campaigners on Thursday will deliver a letter to Downing Street at 11am calling the commitments to right past wrongs “painfully slow”.

Signed by survivors and famous faces including actor David Harewood, singer Beverley Knight and athlete Dame Denise Lewis, the letter describes the axing of recommendations as a “kick in the teeth to the Windrush generation, to whom our country owes such a huge debt of gratitude”.

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Historian David Olusoga says Windrush is a ‘symbolic beginning of post-war diverse Britain’

It reads: “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 Windrush generation is named after the ship that brought hundreds of people from the Caribbean to the UK to help rebuild it after the Second World War, with the first one arriving in 1948.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We remain absolutely committed to righting the wrongs of Windrush and have paid or offered more than £64m in compensation to the people affected.

“We are making good progress towards the vast majority of recommendations from Wendy Williams’ report, and believe there are more meaningful ways of achieving the intent of a very small number of others.

“Through this work, we will make sure that similar injustices can never be repeated and are creating a Home Office worthy of every community it serves.

“The home secretary continues to co-host Windrush Working Group meetings to discuss how we can work together to drive further improvements.”