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Anger over Windrush portrayal

PLEA: Tottenham MP David Lammy

TOTTENHAM MP David Lammy has accused the government of betraying the Windrush Generation after one of his constituents, a homeless 62-year-old father-of-three, was imprisoned after visiting the Home Of ce to sort out his citizenship status.

Lammy said he would be raising the matter with the Prime Minister Theresa May as a matter of urgency after the man was remanded at Pentonville Prison for an alleged criminal offence 20 years ago. He said that his constituent, who has asked to remain nameless, denied the charge.

HELPLINE

Last week, in a letter to Lammy, Mrs May pledged that information received by a taskforce helpline set up to deal with the fallout from the Windrush asco will not be passed on to immigration enforcement.

She added that the taskforce helpline had received more than 8,000 calls, of which more than 2,700 have been identified as Windrush cases. And after unveiling a new compensation scheme newly appointed Home Secretary Sajid Javid also asked for members of the Windrush Generation to come forward with their personal stories about how they had been affected by the issue.

However, there were similar fears expressed about how the information would be used by
the Home Office. But Lammy told The Voice that the case of his constituent was damaging to the Government’s efforts to build trust on the issue.

He said: “The man came to my Windrush surgery last Friday for anyone who had a concern about their citizenship status. I now have 27 Windrush cases in my constituency. The Home Office had asked to be present at my surgery, not sitting with me but at a separate desk, so that anyone who had concerns could speak to them or I could refer people in my surgery to them because I felt that they could help.

“This man – we’ll call him Oliver – was particularly memorable because he told us his story of arriving as a child in 1967 from Jamaica with his parents, and not having any of his paperwork sorted out.

“His parents later died and he has been basically living under the radar for years. He is homeless and he’s sofa sur ng. He’s a mechanic but has had to take cash in hand because he’s not been able to have proper employment due to dif culties proving his British
citizenship.”

The Tottenham MP continued: “As he was getting older I asked him, ‘What do you do
for healthcare?’ He replied that he goes to see a bush man in Walthamstow or saves up if he needs to see the dentist. He also has type 2 diabetes. At that point he just broke down and cried.”

Lammy continued: “It was very affecting for me because this man could have been my uncle or family member. We took all his details, said we would assist him and he went over to speak to the Home Office of cials at my surgery. They told Oliver all would be well as he came to the UK in 1967 with his parents. He filled out some more forms and they took his fingerprints.

“Oliver assumed he was going to get his biometric card and his leave to remain, so it was a joyous moment because after 30 years he was now going to have legitimate British citizenship.

OUTRAGEOUS

“He then went to the Home Of ce the following Monday, the police turned up and he was arrested. I got a message the following day that he was in Pentonville prison and he has no lawyer. So instead of sitting with his passport he’s now sitting in a prison cell.” Oliver was arrested for an alleged criminal offence 20 years ago of handling stolen goods. It is a charge he denies.

Lammy described Oliver’s treatment as outrageous adding that he was planning to raise the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. “This charge is a 20-year-old charge, a petty charge of handling stolen goods which he denied. It’s a complete betrayal of the Government’s promises on Windrush that information would not be used to detain or deport people.

“It’s wrong, it’s a scandal, and it requires an inquiry. Why are they treating black men and women in this way? It’s very damaging for the government because the word goes out and people don’t believe them anymore.”

As well as Oliver’s case others caught up in the Windrush scandal have been forced out of work, in some cases for years, and unable to claim welfare support, as well as individuals who have been wrongfully detained or deported.

Speaking about the case, a Home Office spokesperson told The Voice: “The Taskforce is abiding strictly by the commitments that have been made and no information gathered has been shared with Immigration Enforcement.

"Security and police checks are undertaken on all cases that UK Visas and Immigration consider as part of our routine counter-terrorism and tackling crime efforts. This includes cases considered by the Taskforce.

“One of the systems that is checked for all cases is the Police National Computer. If a ‘wanted’ marker is encountered, staff contact the police. It is for the police to decide what they do with that information. The man in question attended his appointment and his case is pending while we establish his residency.”

The spokesperson added that there was some doubts to Oliver’s claim to be a Windrush Generation migrant. He said: “At the appointment he stated that he had entered the UK in 1976, and so is not part of the pre-1973 Windrush cohort.”

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