Windrush report on conduct of Home Office could be published

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has said he would consider publishing a report into the conduct of civil servants during the Windrush scandal, saying it was clear his predecessor Amber Rudd could have been provided with better information.

Rudd stepped down as home secretary in April after giving the home affairs select committee incorrect information about targets for removing illegal migrants from the UK, as she answered questions about the Windrush crisis in which Caribbean migrants were targeted by immigration enforcement.

Later on Tuesday, Rudd said it was “quite right” that the inquiry into the advice she was given by civil servants was published.

Amber Rudd MP

Quite right, it should be published @CommonsHomeAffs https://t.co/oBaljDuOgp

July 10, 2018

Hugh Ind, the then director general of immigration enforcement, later moved to the Cabinet Office. However, the Home Office permanent secretary, Sir Philip Rutnam, insisted Ind had not been demoted but had moved of his own accord.

Rutnam commissioned a report by Sir Alex Allan, the prime minister’s adviser on ministers’ interests, to examine the quality of the information given to Rudd before the meeting.

What is the Windrush deportation crisis?

Who are the Windrush generation?

They are people who arrived in the UK after the second world war from Caribbean countries at the invitation of the British government. The first group arrived on the ship MV Empire Windrush in June 1948.

What happened to them?

An estimated 50,000 people faced the risk of deportation if they had never formalised their residency status and did not have the required documentation to prove it.

Why now?

It stems from a policy, set out by Theresa May when she was home secretary, to make the UK ‘a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants’. It requires employers, NHS staff, private landlords and other bodies to demand evidence of people’s citizenship or immigration status.

Why do they not have the correct paperwork and status?

Some children, often travelling on their parents’ passports, were never formally naturalised and many moved to the UK before the countries in which they were born became independent, so they assumed they were British. In some cases, they did not apply for passports. The Home Office did not keep a record of people entering the country and granted leave to remain, which was conferred on anyone living continuously in the country since before 1 January 1973.

What is the government doing to resolve the problem?

A new Home Office team was set up to ensure Commonwealth-born long-term UK residents would no longer find themselves classified as being in the UK illegally. But a month after one minister promised the cases would be resolved within two weeks, many remain destitute.

Photograph: Douglas Miller/Hulton Archive
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On Tuesday, Rutnam was criticised by MPs when he said the final report would not be published. He said the summary had concluded “we should be better, we should do better” and that it had been part of a sequence of evidence that led to Rudd’s resignation.

He said he would not release the report because it held confidential employee information: “It is naturally a confidential matter that contains personal data and covers personnel issues.

“You will understand that when something contains personal information about individuals which is a confidential matter about an individual’s conduct, publication is not a straightforward matter, far from it.”

The home affairs committee chair, Yvette Cooper, said it was a “hugely inadequate set of responses” to its questions.

The Conservative MP Douglas Ross, a member of the committee, said there was no reason the report should remain confidential.

“This was a very public scandal, it resulted in the resignation of the former home secretary, the advice she received at this meeting was subject to much publicity, yet you are saying civil servants can hide behind confidentiality when the public want to know if elected politicians are getting the necessary support from the civil service,” he said.

Javid said he was considering whether to publish the report, adding he had confidence it had “left no stone unturned trying to get to the bottom of this”.

He said: “One of the takeaways in the report is that the former home secretary could have been provided with better advice in preparation for her committee appearance at the time and also afterwards. There are lessons to be learned, about the quality and the timeliness of the information.”

Separately, the home secretary was also pressed about the future migration system. He insisted free movement would end regardless of the “mobility framework” laid out in the deal Theresa May put to the cabinet meeting at Chequers.

“What I can tell you, because the prime minister has said this, so I’m not preempting something that’s in the white paper, is that there will be a complete, total end to freedom of movement,” Javid said.

“Freedom of movement as we understand it today will end, but also there will be no version of that, no derivative of that, no type of free movement, no backdoor version of free movement. Free movement will end.”

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