Suella Braverman branded ‘shameful’ over post-Windrush pledges

Windrush protest (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)
Windrush protest (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

Suella Braverman is set to ditch some of the reforms promised following the uncovering of the Windrush scandal, according to reports.

The Home Secretary intends to renege on a Home Office pledge to create the post of migrants’ commissioner, sources told The Guardian.

The role would have seen someone appointed to speak up for migrants and flag systemic problems within the UK immigration system.

It was recommended following a scathing review into the culture at the Whitehall department.

Ms Braverman also reportedly intends to abandon the post-Windrush reform of increasing the powers of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, the newspaper reported on Saturday.

Reconciliation events with members of the Windrush generation, due to be attended by ministers and Braverman’s staff, will reportedly no longer take place.

The Home Office said it does not comment on leaks. An announcement could come next week as the Windrush generation prepare to celebrate the 75th anniversary of their arrival in Britain this year.

The scandal erupted in 2018 when British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation, despite having the right to live in Britain.

Many lost homes and jobs, and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is reportedly considering ditching commitments made in the wake of the Windrush scandal (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is reportedly considering ditching commitments made in the wake of the Windrush scandal (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Wendy Williams made a raft of recommendations for change in a scathing 2020 report into how the Windrush scandal happened, concluding that it was “foreseeable and avoidable”.

Reviewing the progress made by the Home Office on those recommendations, the solicitor in March said she was “disappointed” that only eight out of 30 had been implemented in full.

In her initial report in 2020, Ms Williams, an inspector of constabulary, recommended appointing a migrants’ commissioner in order to “signpost systemic risks”.

She warned that without one, the department “risks undermining its stated commitment to transparency and effective policy making, as well as the efforts to rebuild its reputation”.

Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy tweeted Braverman saying: Using the Windrush Generation as a political football is totally reprehensible.

“Backsliding on the recommendations after the scandalous way innocent black Britons were treated by the government is sick, cruel and debases the UK.”

Football legend Ian Wright blasted the move as “evil and heartless”.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “The Windrush scandal destroyed countless lives and wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

“Yet these disturbing reports are another sign the Conservatives are determined to repeat their mistakes.

“Repeated apologies from Conservative ministers clearly meant nothing if they won’t scrap the hostile environment that caused the Windrush scandal in the first place.”

Anthony Bryan with Labour MPs David Lammy and Dawn Butler and other members of the Windrush generation (PA)
Anthony Bryan with Labour MPs David Lammy and Dawn Butler and other members of the Windrush generation (PA)

For Labour, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper added: “On 75th Windrush anniversary. Shameful.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We have already made good progress against the recommendations, including establishing the Office for the Independent Examiner of Complaints and appointing an independent examiner, and as of the end of October 2022 had paid out or offered £59.58 million on compensation claims.

“We have also held over 200 engagement and outreach events and delivered 120 one-to-one surgeries.

“We know there is more to do.

“Many people suffered terrible injustices at the hands of successive governments and we will continue working hard to deliver a Home Office worthy of every community we serve.”

Former home secretary Priti Patel accepted all 30 of Ms Williams’s recommendations following their publication in 2020.

Home Office officials, however, said Ms Williams’s follow-up two years later had stated that some of her initial recommendations for improvement would never be met.

Last year, Ms Williams said some recommendations might “never be fully implemented” because they would “need to be continuously reviewed” to ensure they were having the “desired effect”.

The reports come in the same week that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to pass new legislation to “stop small boats” filled with migrants from crossing the Channel, saying his administration would “swiftly remove” those arriving in the UK unlawfully.