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Church leaders hail Windrush ruling

28 June 2024

The National Windrush Monument at Waterloo Station in London

The National Windrush Monument at Waterloo Station in London

CHURCH leaders have welcomed a High Court ruling that the Home Office’s abandonment of recommendations of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review was unlawful.

In 2020, the review, conducted by Wendy Williams, made 30 recommendations (News, 20 March 2020), which the Home Secretary at the time, Priti Patel, said that the Government would accept in full.

In December 2022, her successor, Suella Braverman, decided not to proceed with three recommendations: (3) that the Home Office should run a programme of reconciliation events with members of the Windrush generation, (9) introduce a Migrants’ Commissioner responsible for speaking up for migrants and those affected by the system directly or indirectly, and (10) review the remit and role of the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

The decision was criticised by the Bishop of Croydon, Dr Rosemarie Mallett, and the Church of England’s Racial Justice Director, the Revd Guy Hewitt (News, 3 February 2023).

A legal challenge was brought by a victim of the Windrush scandal, Trevor Donald, a 68-year-old man who was born in Jamaica in 1955, but moved to the UK at the age of 11. He was unable to return to the UK for nine years, after travelling to Jamaica to attend his mother’s funeral in 2010.

In a ruling last week, Mrs Justice Heather Williams said that the Secretary of State’s decision not to proceed with Recommendations 9 and 10 breached a “procedural legitimate expectation”, as there was no consultation with the Windrush community or Wendy Williams. It indirectly discriminated against Windrush victims and breached the Secretary of State’s public-sector equality duty.

This week, Fr Hewitt said that he was “reassured” by the ruling, “not only from the perspective of the pursuit of racial justice, but given my familial links to the West Indian community in England”.

He continued: “The requirement for Windrush scandal victims to prove their case ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ rather than ‘on the balance of probabilities’ in order to access compensation, the ignominious request they undergo DNA testing to prove relationships, and the walking back on recommendations of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review previously committed to, suggests that justice isn’t blind. Black and other UK minoritised ethnic groups are held to a different standard compared with families of other political scandals, such as the Post Office.

“I have been reassured by those who are articulating the need for a fundamental reset to the approach to dealing with the consequences of the Windrush scandal.”

“We knew, now the world knows too!” Dr Mallett wrote online, of the ruling. “In time for marking Windrush contributions and remembering the continuing scandal.”

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