Sajid Javid has said Home Office staff lacked “common sense” when it came to deciding whether members of the Windrush generation should be detained and threatened with deportation.
The home secretary said on Wednesday “something massively went wrong” in his department. “I am very sorry for what has happened.”
Javid, who replaced Amber Rudd after she was forced to resign amid the Windrush scandal, said he could bring a “fresh set of eyes” to the department.
“There hasn’t been a very thoughtful approach, a sympathetic approach,” he told parliament’s human rights committee.
“There hasn’t been enough common sense applied by the individual case workers involved,” he said. “Not being personal enough. Not applying enough common sense.”
However he rejected any suggestion immigration officials would ignore evidence that people had the right to remain in the UK in order to meet targets for deportation.
Javid has said up to 63 Windrush migrants, who have the right to live in the UK, may have been wrongfully deported by the government.
But he said on Sunday the Home Office was still not yet sure of the final number.
And he said his department did also not yet know how many people had been wrongly detained.
The Windrush scandal has seen thousands who answered the post-World War II call to come to the UK to work in essential services being wrongly denied access to state healthcare, losing their jobs and even being threatened with deportation.