Home Office under fire over failure to provide Windrush information to deportees

The 49 deportees were flown to Ghana and Nigeria between March and September last year Credit: PA

Ministers have revealed that 49 people deported to Commonwealth countries have not been contacted by the Windrush Taskforce, leading MPs to claim the Home Office “hasn’t learned anything” from the scandal.

The 49, who had been held in UK detention centres, were flown to Ghana and Nigeria between March and September last year – before the Windrush scandal erupted.

Persistent parliamentary questions from Green Party MP Caroline Lucas to Home Office ministers have revealed that no “specific attempt” has been made to inform those deported that the taskforce exists.

Home Office Minister Caroline Nokes said those concerned could visit a Government website for information.

Ms Lucas, speaking to the Press Association, said: “It doesn’t seem much to ask for the Government to tell people they’ve kicked out of the country that the Windrush taskforce exists.

“Ministers know their treatment of the Windrush generation is a national disgrace. That they haven’t bothered to contact people who’ve been deported suggests the Government hasn’t learned anything from the public backlash against their hostile environment.”

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the case highlighted how “reckless and incompetent” the Government’s immigration policy was.

She said: “The Windrush generation includes many more than just those who came from the Caribbean, as in this case.

“People from almost every Commonwealth country have been treated badly under this Government’s hostile environment. It’s clear these injustices will continue if ministers don’t even know what’s going on.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Ed Davey said: “The Home Office has an obligation to every single victim of the Windrush scandal. Ministerial apologies are meaningless if they are not accompanied by action to put things right.

“Anyone who may have been wrongly deported must be contacted and told how to apply to return and receive compensation.

“In these cases, the Home Office seems to be waiting around for people to contact them – even though they may not have the means or information to do so. That’s an utter disgrace.

“The Government must do everything it can to repair the damage it has done and compensate all the victims of this appalling scandal.”

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said announcements relating to Commonwealth citizen can be found on a Government website Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Ms Nokes, in response to Ms Lucas’s question, said in a written ministerial answer: “The Home Office has not made a specific attempt to inform those 49 people of the Windrush Taskforce.

“The Home Office announcements relating to Commonwealth citizens can be found at www.gov.uk/Windrush.

“This website is regularly updated with information about how individuals who believe they qualify under the Windrush criteria can apply for status under the Windrush Settlement Scheme.

“Assistance is also available through the Windrush Taskforce helpline on freephone 0800 678 1925 or by email at commonwealthtaskforce@homeoffice.gov.uk.”

In response to earlier questions from Ms Lucas on the same issue, Ms Nokes explained that, prior to any enforced removal, all individuals are notified of the reasons why they are liable for removal and the destination for removal.

Immigrants being welcomed by officials after Empire Windrush landed them at Tilbury Credit: PA

The Home Office also advises individuals affected to seek early legal advice and places them under a duty to raise any asylum, human rights or European free movement reasons and explain why they believe they are entitled to stay.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Any individual who believes they are protected under the provisions of the 1971 Immigration Act is able to contact the Windrush Taskforce, who will help to identify their current status

“We have always been clear that the Windrush scheme is not restricted to the Windrush generation or people from the Caribbean, but it is right that applicants for citizenship need to satisfy the good character and residence requirements.”

The department added that it has checked the 49 cases and there is no evidence to indicate that any of the individuals were in the UK before 1973 and therefore potentially entitled to status under the 1971 Immigration Act.

It was revealed earlier this month that an official count of Windrush migrants who were removed, detained or stopped at the border could be revised up.

The Home Office said it had tweaked its methodology after identifying possible cases where individuals who committed minor offences, or who were never prosecuted or were acquitted, were excluded from the figure.

Work is under way to review previously excluded cases and any who do not meet the criteria for exclusion will have their records checked to identify whether they came to the UK prior to 1973, and their details will be passed to the Windrush Taskforce.

Ministers faced a furious backlash over the treatment of the Windrush generation – named after a ship that brought migrants to Britain from the Caribbean in 1948.

Commonwealth citizens who arrived before 1973 were automatically granted indefinite leave to remain.

But some were later challenged over their immigration status despite living in the UK legally for decades.