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Black activists demand public inquiry into Windrush scandal

ANTI-RACISM activists launched a petition today calling on the Prime Minister to hold a public inquiry into the Windrush scandal.

The move by Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (Barac) echoes a call made by the PCS union, which represents Home Office workers, at its annual delegate conference.

Barac wants a credible independent panel to determine the extent to which the scandal was driven by racism.

The group says an inquiry should also probe the full effect of the Home Office’s persecution of Commonwealth citizens on its victims’ job losses, homelessness, denial of services and health conditions.

The petition is launched amid mounting pressure on the Home Office from MPs. The Commons public accounts committee heard evidence from the department’s top civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam yesterday.

A cross-party panel of MPs quizzed the permanent secretary about whether the government was “doing enough to identify people affected and resolve their issues.”

The Home Office has published new figures showing it had spent more than £6 million its response to the Windrush scandal by the end of October with 175 “full-time equivalent” staff assigned to the initiatives. The department has also funded flights from Jamaica to London for three individuals who faced “urgent and exceptional” circumstances.

On top of the £6 million, about £4m in fees has been waived following the introduction of the Windrush scheme, which allows eligible applicants to obtain status free of charge.

Commonwealth citizens who arrived before 1973 were automatically granted indefinite leave to remain, but many were not issued with any documents confirming their status.

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