The family of a Windrush migrant who died while trying to prove his British citizenship have withdrawn from his inquest.
Dexter Bristol, 57, collapsed in the street and died following the Windrush scandal, which saw British Caribbeans who had lived in the UK for decades deported, detained and denied access to benefits and healthcare, as they could not prove they were in the country legally.
Bristol’s mother, Sentina, blamed the stress caused by his immigration problems for his death on March 31, and said that Prime Minister Theresa May should resign. His family wanted to make submissions to the court about the role the scandal might have played in his death.
The family withdrew from an inquest held at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, after coroner Dr William Dolman ruled that the Home Office should not be considered an ‘interested party’ – allowing it to play an active part in the hearing – as its policy was not relevant to the immediate circumstances of Bristol’s death.
Dolman ruled that Bristol died from an acute cardiac arrhythmia and that the causes were natural, but said: “I accept from the evidence that the deceased was suffering from a great deal of stress at the time.”
He also said that he was sorry that Bristol’s family were not there to hear the evidence.
The family had applied for an adjournment at the court for a judicial review and Sentina said they are “disappointed”.
“We want justice, that’s what we’re fighting for – justice,” she added.
Jacqueline McKenzie, Bristol’s immigration lawyer said: “It’s really distressing that the family decided that they couldn’t participate in the proceedings. I think that’s really sad but I think they were quite right to do so.”
“I think the coroner did not show courtesy to the family or to their legal team.”
Dr Dolman had apologised earlier after accusing Una Morris, representing Bristol’s family, of “trying to tell me how to run my court”.
Bristol had not realised he could not prove his citizenship until being sacked from his job for not having a passport in 2017.
McKenzie said: “He was prepared to fight but as the months went on and he was required to find more evidence it became very difficult and we saw him just decline into a shadow of himself.”
At the time of his death, he had not visited his GP for more than a year, believing he could not change surgeries unless he could prove his immigration status.