Windrush: Call to review deportation of foreign-born offenders

By Nicholas Watt
Newsnight political editor

  • Published
Protest against deportation flightsImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Protests against deportation flights have been held outside the Jamaican embassy in London

The government should consider ending the deportation of foreign-born offenders who came to the UK as children, according to a draft report into the Windrush scandal.

Ahead of a deportation flight to Jamaica next week, a leaked copy of the Windrush report calls on the government to consider an overhaul of the law.

The findings come in a draft of the Windrush Lessons Learned review, leaked to the Labour MP David Lammy and seen exclusively by Newsnight.

Sajid Javid commissioned the review in July 2018, while home secretary, to avoid any future repeat of the Windrush scandal.

The Windrush scandal revealed that citizens of Commonwealth countries - who had an automatic right to settle in the UK until 1973 - had wrongly faced questions about those rights.

Some were denied entry to the UK when they sought to return home after visiting their country of birth, whilst others were wrongly denied access to public services and benefits.

One of the aims of the Windrush review, written by Wendy Williams - an inspector of constabulary, is to rebuild confidence among members of the Windrush generation and their relatives.

According to the draft of the report, that process would be helped by ending the deportation of foreign-born offenders who have mainly been raised in the UK.

The draft of the report, written in June last year, says: "Government should review its policy and approach to FNOs [foreign national offenders], if necessary through primary legislation. It should consider ending all deportation of FNOs where they arrived in the UK as children (say, before age of 13).

"Alternatively, deportation should only be considered in the most severe cases."

The Detention Action group estimates that at least two offenders due to be deported to Jamaica next week would be able to remain in the UK if the recommendations in the draft report were implemented.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
The Windrush generation take their name from the ship that brought the first West Indies immigrants to Britain in 1948

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, told Newsnight she would be calling on the government to publish the report.

"This draft report is very embarrassing and shaming for the government.

"Campaigners have said for years that it is unfair to deport people who came here as children and really don't know any other country, and now this report confirms that.

"We will be pressing the government to release this report as soon as possible.

"You shouldn't be deporting people who have never known another country."

Boris Johnson told MPs this week that it is right that foreign-born offenders are deported.

The prime minister said: "I think the whole House will understand that the people of this country will think it right to send back foreign national offenders."

'Given a chance'

But the mother of an offender due to be deported to Jamaica next week says her son would be allowed to stay if the recommendations in the draft Windrush report were implemented.

Carline Angus says her son, Tajay Thompson, 23, was convicted as a teenager for possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply, serving seven months of a 15-month sentence at the age of 17.

She told Newsnight: "My son came here when he was five, so why is he in this category [to be deported]? I think he should be given a chance.

"If you don't give him a chance to rehabilitate himself, how can he learn? He has already made his mistake, he apologised for it. All he needs is just a chance."

The Home Office told Newsnight it does not comment on leaks.

A spokesperson said: "The planned charter flight to Jamaica is specifically for removing foreign criminals. Those detained for removal include people convicted of manslaughter, rape, violent crime and dealing Class A drugs."