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Latest 22 June 2020

Windrush scandal

Today is Windrush Day, the anniversary of the arrival of hundreds of Caribbean people to the UK upon HMT Empire Windrush in 1948. 

An annual celebration born just two years ago, Windrush Day is an opportunity to honour and celebrate the British Caribbean community and their contributions to British society.

But until the injustices of the Windrush scandal are addressed, this day stands too as a symbol of this Government’s casual disregard for British Caribbean lives and the enduring shame the hostile environment has delivered upon our country.

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  • It was almost three years ago that harrowing reports of the wrongful denial of legal rights, and the unlawful detainment and deportation, of Commonwealth citizens began to be reported in the Guardian;
  • It is two years since Theresa May said she was “genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused” by the hostile environment policies she introduced as Home Secretary;
  • It is one year since Sajid Javid launched the Windrush compensation scheme, promising compensation for members of the Windrush generation “who faced extreme difficulties and hardship”; and
  • It is months since the publication of Dr Wendy Williams’ review into the Windrush scandal, which found that “what happened to those affected by the Windrush scandal was foreseeable and avoidable” and that the Home Office had shown “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation”.

And here we are and what has changed? The Guardian is still reporting on the devastation wrought by the incompetence of the Home Office on members of the Windrush generation. Of the 12,000 people who have been given documentation in the last two years confirming they are living in the UK legally, only 60 people have received Windrush compensation payments, with just £362,996 distributed so far (from a fund expected to pay out between £200m and £570m.) Priti Patel has today launched a new Windrush cross-party working group, but remains committed to an immigration system that continues to yield (in her own words) “unimaginable suffering”.

We must do better. We do not intend to look back next year, on the fourth annual Windrush Day, and lament, once again, that nothing seems to have changed.

So today we want to tell you that we at Good Law Project will commit at least £25,000 to pursuing legal action with the aim of securing compensation from the Government for individuals impacted by the Windrush scandal. We will select Counsel and solicitors with the historic discrimination faced by Black men and women in the legal profession at the forefront of our minds. We will commit to taking at least five cases forward and we will choose those cases in a manner that honours the work done by those campaigners – lawyers, journalists, pressure groups, charities – who have kept alive the flame under the national shame that is Windrush.

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