Good Law Project and Windrush Lives launch legal action against Priti Patel over Windrush Compensation Scheme

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Windrush Lives and Good Law Project have launched legal action against Home Secretary Priti Patel, asking her to hand over control of the failing Windrush Compensation Scheme to an independent organisation so people can get the justice they deserve.

The Windrush generation has suffered extreme injustice at the hands of the Home Office; people who had every right to be here, who had lived in the UK for decades, have been detained, refused healthcare, lost their homes and jobs, and even deported after being wrongly classified as illegal immigrants.

In 2019, the Home Office promised compensation to those affected for the harm it had inflicted on them and their families. But the compensation scheme has been marred by the same mistakes that led to the Windrush scandal in the first place: extensive delays and daunting bureaucratic hurdles that have left Windrush victims ‘retraumatised’.

Four years after the scandal hit the headlines, just 5% of victims have received the compensation they are entitled to. Twenty-three people are thought to have died waiting.  

The Home Office has, so far, refused to hand over control of the Windrush Compensation Scheme to an independent organisation, despite the Home Affairs Committee recommending they do so.

Good Law Project and Windrush Lives sent a pre-action protocol letter, the first step in civil legal proceedings, to Home Secretary Priti Patel, calling on her to hand over the compensation scheme to an independent organisation. 

Dominic Akers-Paul, a Windrush victim and member of Windrush Lives, said: 
“The Windrush Compensation Scheme has been a continuation of the pain and suffering that caused me to be eligible for the scheme in the first place. I have been forced to recount painful experiences to the same people who caused them, only to have that devalued by a demeaningly low offer. The Home Office needs to do the right thing and hand the scheme over to an independent body.” 

Ramya Jaidev, spokesperson for Windrush Lives, said:
“The Home Office has used the Windrush Compensation Scheme to perpetuate the systemic racism and ill-treatment which caused the Windrush scandal. Victims are not believed, and a significant number are excluded from the scheme altogether. Evidence which cannot exist by definition is demanded of them, and when they cannot produce it, insultingly low values are placed on the suffering they have endured. 

“At least 23 victims have already died without compensation, and the Home Office has shown repeatedly that it does not care, despite repeated claims that it is ‘righting the wrongs’ done to Windrush victims. Enough is enough.”

Jo Maugham, director of Good Law Project, said: 
“The evidence is that the Home Office can’t be trusted to mark its own homework. The Home Affairs Committee has said what Windrush victims have said all along: the scheme has to be handed over to an independent organisation if it is to work. 

“Together with Windrush Lives, we are asking Priti Patel to listen to Windrush victims and set up an independent scheme. If she really wanted to make things right, she’d do so voluntarily. But we think any failure would be unlawful and amenable to judicial review.”