Windrush Review Already Suggests Lessons Haven’t Been Learned

Anger has been sparked up and down the country as it appears a report into the Windrush scandal has been amended to rinse the Home Office of proper accountability.

The long-awaited independent report conducted by HM inspector of constabulary, Wendy Williams, into the Windrush fiasco has allegedly had crucial extracts removed in its most recent drafts.

The “Lessons Learned” review is supposed to assess the unlawful detention and deportation of people who had lived in the UK for decades to the Caribbean, dubbed the ‘Windrush generation’ as many came to the UK to help the country back to its feet in the aftermath of WWII.

Windrush protest
Protestors took to the street to demand justice when the scandal emerged in 2018. [Image: Matthew Chattle/Rex/Shutterstock/The Guardian.]

Yet the latest version of the review seems to have removed a segment that accuses the Home Office of being “institutionally racist”, The Times has reported.

There have certainly been bumps in the road in seeing that this report sees the light of day

The review is already a year late and this isn’t the first time the news has suggested that the investigation has been under suspicious and perhaps excessive scrutiny: leaked extracts by Channel 4 News previously discovered that Williams called the Home Office “reckless” and that it has developed a “defensive culture” in which it takes no responsibility to challenge discrimination or the ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy.

Another part recommended that the Government stops deporting people who have come to the UK as children and who have grown up on British soil and in the most part consider the UK their home having little-to-no ties or roots in their country of birth. This would have halted the most recent and controversial deportation of Jamaican-born men. Perhaps coincidentally, The Times discovered that this suggestion also failed to make it in the final cut of the latest version.

Wendy Willaims, HM Inspector of Constabulary. [Image: Justice Inspectorates].

Williams’ report is said to have been seen by only a handful of officials since ministers are outright barred from having a peak. However, there have certainly been bumps in the road in seeing that this report sees the light of day considering the lengthy publication time. The Times further found the delay may be down to the review enduring ‘Maxwellisation’ – where anyone mentioned in the report have a window of opportunity to respond and possibly refute criticism about them.  

The Home Office said that it does not comment on leaked documents but highlights ministers “have not seen any version of the report.” A spokesman confirmed that the Home Office would publish the review “as soon as practicable.”

It’s easy to see why the Government would be keen to cover it up

But the retractions certainly pose some uncomfortable questions around the Home Office. Is it snooping around the report? It’s easy to see why the Government would be keen to cover it up, especially as the ‘hostile environment’ has plagued the party since its inception 10 years ago and key cabinet ministers are frequently depicted as xenophobic by minority and ethnic communities across the UK.

Another protestor alleged to be a London teacher and daughter of a Windrush migrant, argues ‘the Windrush generation helped to build Britain’. [Image: Youtube].

Yvette Cooper, chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, believes the Home Office may have played a role in smoothing over the report:

“The review was supposed to be independent.

“It’s one thing for the Home Office to check facts, but it would be completely unacceptable for the Home Office to try to water down the review’s conclusions and judgements about what went wrong”, she said.

The news follows for yet another race-row week in Parliament. Dave, a UK grime artist, took to the stage at the Brit Awards to launch a scathing attack on the Government for failing to handle Grenfell and Windrush, in particular calling the Prime Minister “a real racist” after reprimanding the media for its unhinged treatment of Meghan Markle.

And he isn’t wrong: Prime Minister Boris Johnson was further embroiled in a race row as it emerged he had hired a eugenics preacher and active racist while Johnson himself refuses to call out the practice as racist.

Already the scandal around the report itself suggests that lessons haven’t been learned – and that the Government remains blighted by its own indifferent mentality

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, took to Twitter to demand that the “truth” around the report be “published in full”.

He said: “The Windrush scandal resulted in the systematic deportation and detention of black British citizens by the UK Home Office.

“The victims’ nationality and rights were denied because of the colour of their skin. If this is not institutionally racist I have no idea what is.

It would be an outrage and an insult to the Windrush generation for Wendy Williams’ independent Review to be watered down for political reasons.”

The final draft is rumoured to finally be published in the next six weeks, but already the scandal around the report itself suggests that lessons haven’t been learned – and that the Government remains blighted by its own indifferent mentality to ever start claiming accountability any time soon.

Written by
Olivia Bridge