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  1. ITV Report

Theresa May apologises to Caribbean leaders over treatment of Windrush generation

Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised over the Windrush generation immigration controversy.

During a meeting at Downing Street with Caribbean leaders, Mrs May said: "I want to dispel any impression that my Government is in some sense clamping down on Commonwealth citizens, particularly those from the Caribbean.

"I take this issue very seriously. The Home Secretary apologised in the House of Commons yesterday for any anxiety caused. And I want to apologise to you today. Because we are genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused."

Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced on Monday that she was setting up a new taskforce to speed up the regularisation of the immigration status for people who arrived in the UK as long ago as the 1940s.

The move came amid growing anger that people who had lived in Britain since they were children were now being denied access to healthcare and threatened with deportation due to UK paperwork issues.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes told ITV News there were some "horrendous situations" which had seen some members of the Windrush generation wrongly deported.

Downing Street have insisted that no one with a right to be in the country would be made to leave, and that the prime minister will offer further reassurances when she meets Caribbean leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in London on Tuesday.

Mrs May added: "Those who arrived from the Caribbean before 1973 and lived here permanently without significant periods of time away in the last 30 years have the right to remain in the UK.

"As do the vast majority of long-term residents who arrived later, and I don't want anybody to be in any doubt about their right to remain here in the United Kingdom."

In the Commons on Monday, Ms Rudd acknowledged the Home Office had become "too concerned with policy and strategy" at the expense of the individual.

"I do not want any of the Commonwealth citizens who are here legally to be impacted in the way they have," she told MPs.

"Frankly, some of the ways they have been treated has been wrong, has been appalling and I am sorry."

The Windrush generation were invited to help rebuild the UK after World War II. Credit: PA

Ms Rudd said fees for sorting out the paperwork of those affected would be waived so they could have their status confirmed free of charge.

She said she had also given instructions that there were "no removals or detention" of Commonwealth citizens under the new assistance scheme.

The announcement came after a cross-party group of 140 MPs wrote to Mrs May calling for an "immediate and effective" response to problems faced by members of the Windrush generation.

Labour MP David Lammy who organised the letter said it was a "day of national shame" and that it was "inhumane and cruel" that so many people had had to live with such uncertainty for so long.

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