Home Secretary Sajid Javid has offered personal apologies to more victims of the Windrush scandal - on the same day as the official launch of the Tory leadership race.
The Secretary of State has written 46 letters to people who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean before 1973, and were wrongly stripped of their rights as a result of the controversial ‘hostile environment’ policy.
They stayed in the UK permanently but were unable to demonstrate their continuous residence, which led to action being taken against them - including some being deported.
Seven people who had criminal convictions, and were held under immigration detention powers at the end of their prison sentence, were among those who received an apology from Javid.
The victims were identified during a historical review of removals, detentions and ‘hostile environment’ measures affecting Caribbean Commonwealth nationals.
In a statement, Javid said: “I have been very clear that the experiences of some members of the Windrush generation has been completely unacceptable, which is why I am committed to right the wrongs of successive governments.
“I have personally apologised to those identified through this review and I will make sure they receive support and access to the compensation scheme.
“Since we launched the Commonwealth Citizens’ Taskforce, over 6,400 individuals have been given documents to confirm their status so that they can get on with their lives in the UK.”
Javid is currently campaigning to become the next Conservative Party leader. Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock officially launched their campaigns on Monday.
Adam Yates, a race equality campaigner, believes that the Home Office might have chosen a less busy news day to make the apology public.
He said: “Every announcement is planned in advance and subject to sign off.
“If the release was published at a less busier time...it could make things worse for Javid’s leadership prospects and enable his opponents to attack him.
“After all, the Windrush scandal is a mess that he’s having to clean up.”
Patrick Vernon, who is now a figurehead in the fight for justice for Windrush families, said of Javid’s announcement: “Written apologies are fine to affected individual families by the Home Secretary but we need more effective action in supporting families accessing the Windrush compensation scheme.
“I hope the Home Office will support and provide match funding for the Windrush Justice Fund which is being administered by Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.
“The grants will help to support grass roots organisations to help victims apply for Windrush Taskforce and compensation scheme.
“I also hope the Home Secretary will provide ongoing support to the National Organisation of Deported Migrants based in Kingston in Jamaica.”
The Home Office also revealed only 13 of the 91 people requesting urgent support with the Windrush compensation scheme have been assisted.
Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs select committee of MPs, said: “It’s worrying that the Home Office is still failing to provide vital support to the Windrush generation.
“So more than 12 months on from the Windrush scandal only very few people are being supported for the hardship they have endured.”
In August last year, Javid issued 18 apology letters to Windrush victims. Four from this group will receive a second apology from the Home Secretary in this latest batch of letters. This means that a total of 67 people will receive an apology.
To date over 6,400 individuals have been given documentation confirming their status, including over 4,200 individuals who have successfully applied to become British nationals.
Shortly after the Windrush scandal broke, the Home Office established the Commonwealth Citizen Taskforce which is open to all nationalities.
The compensation scheme opened in April and applications are currently being received.
An independent lessons learned review, launched in July and led by Wendy Williams, has also been set up to establish what went wrong and how to prevent it happening again.