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RESPONSIBILITY for the Windrush scandal falls “squarely on the shoulders” of Theresa May for ignoring a report warning her what would happen, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas charged yesterday.
The Brighton Pavilion MP had tabled a written question asking if Ms May, as home secretary, had acted on the Legal Action Group’s prescient October 2014 report Chasing Status.
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes responded: ”No specific action was taken as a result of this report.”
The report recommended a number of measures which could have prevented the Windrush scandal, including to set up a special unit to fast-track cases of people living in Britain on January 1 1973.
It also called for the restoration of legal aid for these cases, allowing Commonwealth-born citizens to work, access the the NHS and claim benefits and for Home Office proof of residence standards to be revised.
Another of the report’s recommendations was for “greater openness” from the Home Office about its archiving and destruction policies, and for it to accept that some immigration records could be rendered inaccurate or incomplete over time.
Ms Lucas said: “We now have yet more clear-cut evidence that Theresa May as home secretary chose to explicitly ignore recommendations that would have prevented much of the damage of the Windrush scandal from happening.
“Responsibility for the Windrush scandal, and the countless lives it has ruined, falls squarely on the shoulders of our Prime Minister — and she must be held to account for this act of great betrayal.
“Corrective measures are all well and good but without a root and branch transformation of both attitude and policy across Government, the hostile environment and all its damaging consequences will persist.”
The 2014 report highlighted the plight of thousands of long-term British residents who are unable to prove their immigration status or have “irregular” status, despite having lived legally in the country for most of their lives after arriving as children.
They were being targeted for detention and deportation under Ms May’s hostile immigration environment and denied access to work and public services.
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