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GBR | Jun 10, 2021

Latest report critical of UK’s Home Office handling of Windrush victim

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Report cites case of man wrongly threatened with forced return to Jamaica in his final years

Rupert Everett, a Jamaican-born man living in Manchester, wrongfully pursued by the United Kingdom Home Office. (Photo: Twitter @GMIAU)

The UK’s Home Office has been cited for repeated errors in the case of a Windrush victim, former HGV driver, Rupert Everett, who had lived in the UK for more than 50 years and was classified as an illegal immigrant and threatened with arrest, prison and forcible removal.

The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman, Rob Behrens has found the Home Office’s action regarding its treatment of Everett wanting in the latest official report on the department’s handling of the Windrush scandal, detailing how Everett died in 2019, aged 74, without having received an apology or compensation from the government.

The ombudsman provides an independent complaint handling service for grievances that have not been resolved by UK government departments. The report concluded that the immigration enforcement officials should not have told Everett that he was in the UK illegally and missed opportunities to put things right.

Everett’s daughters said he was distressed to have his passport confiscated by immigration officials in 2016, and was terrified at the prospect of being forcibly returned to Jamaica, a country he had visited only twice since leaving in 1962, aged 19.

Everett wrongfully pursued and threatened by Immigration Enforcement

Ombudsman Rob Behrens, who was asked to investigate the case after attempts to complain through the official complaints mechanism failed reported that, “a well-loved father and grandfather spent the last years of his life in severe depression and anxiety because he was being wrongfully pursued and threatened by Immigration Enforcement.”

Behrens found that, “UK Visas and Immigration failed to adhere to its own standards. It should acknowledge the distress it has caused and make sure cases like this are not repeated.”

The Guardian reported that Sukhdeep Singh, caseworker at the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, who has helped more than 40 Windrush victims, described this case, as one of the worst cases he had encountered because Everett had clear documentary proof of his right to be in the UK, but officials ignored the evidence.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman argued that Everett was failed by five Home Office units: the north-west immigration enforcement department, the unit responsible for withdrawing driving licences, the department responsible for issuing biometric cards, the nationality department and the complaints section, he said. “The Home Office showed a complete lack of care about him as an individual,” Behrens concluded.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman has recommended that the Home Office improve its complaints handling within its immigration enforcement department and calls on the department to apologise and make a financial remedy to the family.

Everett’s daughter speaks out about Home Office treatment

The Guardian reported that Everett’s daughter, Fiona explained that her father became withdrawn and isolated after the Home Office told him he was an immigration offender. “We haven’t had an explanation or an apology. It wasn’t one person that messed up, it was five departments,” she said.

According to her, “my father was looking forward to spending more time with his family. Instead, he was told that he was going to be thrown out of this country. He changed from being an outgoing family man to becoming depressed and isolating himself from his family. I am pleased that the ombudsman’s investigation has found that my father was treated appallingly by the Home Office, but am desolated that he is not alive to read the report.”

A Home Office spokesperson told The Guardian “the victims of the Windrush scandal faced appalling treatment and we are determined to right these wrongs. We are considering the ombudsman’s findings and offer our sincere condolences to Mr Everett’s loved ones for their loss.”

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