Reporter who uncovered Windrush reveals how victims still suffer

22 June 2020, 17:53

By Fiona Jones

Amelia Gentleman, reporter and author of The Windrush Betrayal, told Shelagh Fogarty she is weary of hearing the "government's protestations of the amount of respect and gratitude they feel towards this generation of people."

The reporter who uncovered the scandal said: "It's been well over two years now since Theresa May first apologise for this Home Office scandal which saw thousands of people who were living in the UK entirely legally wrongly categorised as illegal immigrants.

"Two years ago we had Amber Rudd resign over this matter, we saw the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid promise to reform the immigration system, to make it much more compassionate...we've had apology after apology. Yet two years on, as you say, there are a number of people who remain still very very much in difficulty."

Ms Gentleman told Shelagh she has spoken to people who have been waiting over a year for compensation and respond to government announcements on Windrush with "an eye-roll" and instead want action.

Shelagh said she felt the initial shock and horror at the treatment of the Windrush generation has faded away to which Ms Gentleman agreed that there is a disconnect between the government's "effusive" apology and the practical measures put in place.

Ms Gentleman said there been a number of apologies to the people who were affected in "really really life-shattering ways" yet "there hasn't been a real sense of structural change to reassure them in to feeling it won't happen again."

She called the pace at which compensation has been given out to Windrush victims "worryingly slow" - of the 1,100 people that have applied for compensation only 60 have received any. The total paid out by the government is around £360,000 - but this is out of a pot that has the capacity to pay out "hundreds of millions of pounds."

She pointed out that this compensation is not needed as an apologetic token but to pay off the debt the Windrush victims were faced with after being declared illegal immigrants.