Ex-home secretary Amber Rudd 'let down by officials'

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Media caption,

Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd tells Today the department "did not have a grip" on Windrush

Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd was let down by her own officials, an inquiry into the events leading up to her resignation has concluded.

Ms Rudd quit the role in April, saying she had "inadvertently misled" MPs investigating the Windrush scandal.

A report into the row found officials gave her the wrong information and then later failed to clear up the problem.

Ms Rudd said leaks during her time in office were politically motivated and "definitely intended to embarrass me".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she added the leaks had come from a "high level" within the department.

Friday's report says Ms Rudd was "not supported as she should have been".

It adds she lost confidence in her officials to such an extent she prepared for a subsequent parliamentary appearance on her own.

The report's author, the prime minister's advisor on ministers' interests, Sir Alex Allan, describes this decision as "dangerous".

Downing Street said it expected the Home Office to respond to the "difficult and important" issues raised in the report but the prime minister did not believe civil servants were acting against ministers.

The Windrush controversy began when it emerged that some migrants from Commonwealth countries, who were encouraged to settle in the UK from the late 1940s to 1973, were being wrongly declared illegal immigrants.

Ms Rudd came under fire for the government's treatment of these residents - known as the Windrush generation - and their relatives and the wider impact of its "hostile environment" policy designed to deter illegal immigration.

Singled out

When she addressed MPs on the home affairs select committee on 25 April, Ms Rudd gave an inaccurate assertion that her department had no targets for immigration removals.

She blamed officials, and the report - written in May - describes a series of confused email exchanges and crossed wires.

Ms Rudd later admitted "local" targets for voluntary removals had been set but told the Commons she had not been aware of them. This was subsequently contradicted by a June 2017 memo from an official, copied to Ms Rudd, that referred to targets.

While Sir Alex does not recommend any civil servant face a misconduct investigation, he singles out for criticism the then director general for immigration enforcement Hugh Ind, who has since moved to a different civil service role.

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Asked if she wants a return to the cabinet, Amber Rudd says she is "not without ambition"

The report said he had offered a "less than satisfactory performance".

Ms Rudd said the report demonstrated that immigration enforcement "did not have a grip on what was going on".

She added she hoped changes would be made as a result of the report "so that people get a better service".

The Hastings and Rye MP stopped short of saying she felt vindicated by the report, but hinted she was ready to return to front line politics.

She said whether or not she returned to high office was now "up to the prime minister".

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Ms Rudd's came under fire for her department's treatment of the Windrush generation

Speaking to the BBC last month about her career, Ms Rudd said she been misled by some civil servants about immigration enforcement.

Ms Rudd told Nick Robinson's Political Thinking podcast she should have done more to find out what was happening but when she started "really probing... it became evident that [officials] didn't know what was going on."

She said it had made her more sceptical about civil servants - although she praised those she worked with on counter-terrorism as "fantastic".

She added she would "quite like" to be home secretary again "because there's a few things I'd like to do a bit better than last time".