David Lammy has called the Windrush scandal an “indictment of the government’s pandering to the far right” during an urgent question about it in parliament.
The question came after an outcry by some members of the public and immigration advocacy groups about a deportation flight to Jamaica, which reportedly leaves the UK on Wednesday (February 6).
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In response to Mr Javid’s statement that the Home Office was still working with those affected by the Windrush scandal, Mr Lammy said:
“Your department’s treatment of the Windrush generation has been nothing less than a national scandal. In November, we learned that at least 164 members of the Windrush generation were wrongly removed, detained or stopped at the border by our own government.
“Eleven of those who were wrongly removed have died.
'Sham immigration targets'
“You’ve announced three more [deaths] today. Every single one of these cases is a shocking indictment of your government’s pandering to a far right, racism [sic], sham immigration targets and a dog whistle of the right wing press.
“On taking this job he [the Home Secretary] promised to do whatever it takes to put this wrong right.
“We are now ten months on from when this scandal broke - not a penny has been paid out to any Windrush victim in a compensation scheme.
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“The independent Windrush lessons review has not yet reported. I say to you Home Secretary, before the review is even complete, why are you deporting people?
“We hear about deportation flights to Jamaica this week, when you’ve detained up to 50 black residents and given them open window removal notice, why are you deporting them given this review has not reported and there’s been no compensation? How can you be confident you’re not making the same mistakes?”
Mr Lammy was referring to the flight reportedly taking off on Wednesday. The Home Office would not confirm its departure date or how many people were scheduled to be on board, but told talkRADIO that “it is only right that we seek to deport foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes in the UK. This ensures we keep the public safe.
“All individuals on this charter flight are serious criminals.”
The statement added that the crimes committed by the detainees included rape and murder.
Owen Haisley. Image: G9ija/Twitter
One man who is scheduled to be removed is Owen Haisley, a 45-year-old Manchester resident who came to the UK from Jamaica when he was four and given leave to remain and a national insurance number.
He served a short prison sentence in 2015 for domestic assault, and was told he would need to re-apply for his right to remain.
A three-year battle with the Home Office ensued, and Mr Haisley was arrested on January 25 when he was signing on at an immigration centre.
A petition to release Mr Haisley, who is well-known in Manchester as a drum and bass DJ, has reached over 88,000 signatures.
Movement for Justice, an immigrant rights organisation, is working with Mr Haisley and 25 other men who’ve been detained, and showed talkRADIO a document detailing the backgrounds and convictions of the men.
Some 13 of them came to the UK as children, 12 have been in the UK longer than 19 years, and one was born in the UK in 1975 but taken back to Jamaica by his mother when he was a baby.
The men’s convictions collectively include drugs offences, robbery, assault, dangerous driving, GBH, and rape.
'The government has failed'
Demonstrators with Movement for Justice. Image: Movement for Justice/Facebook
Karen Doyle, co-founder of Movement for Justice, said she was not aware of any detainees with a conviction for murder.
“Sajid Javid was keen to say murder and rape over and over and over, but out of the 26 people I’ve spoken to, none was for murder, and only one was for rape,” Ms Doyle told talkRADIO.
She added that “I think David Lammy’s speech was fantastic, and he spoke for so many people. So many people will have been watching that and clapping and cheering. It’s so true that the government has failed the Windrush generation, and their descendants and families.”
Mr Javid responded to Mr Lammy’s impassioned speech by saying he “does himself a disservice… to suggest there is even an ounce of racism in this house”.
He also said the Windrush compensation scheme had been extended. Some people affected by the scandal have still not had their cases resolved.