Labour MPs warn ministers not to water down Windrush review

Concern after report of phrase ‘institutionally racist’ being removed from draft report

Politicians have warned the government not to water down a review into the Windrush scandal after claims that a section of a pending report that branded the Home Office “institutionally racist” was removed.

The Times newspaper reported sources saying the phrase “institutionally racist” was included in an earlier draft of the Windrush review, led by inspector of constabulary Wendy Williams, but had subsequently been deleted.

Sources familiar with the review questioned that account and told the Guardian that the phrase had been discussed but not included in drafts. But they said that they shared concerns that the final draft was being diluted through the so-called Maxwellisation process, when people criticised in the report are given the chance to respond before it is published.

The delayed independent review was commissioned after people with a right to live in the UK were wrongfully detained or deported to the Caribbean.

The Home Office did not deny that the report had been toned down.

The Labour chair of the home affairs select committee, Yvette Cooper, said: “The Wendy Williams 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 judgments about what went wrong.”

It is understood that those working on the report have expressed particular concerns about the fate of foreign national offenders who have lived in the UK since childhood.

BBC Newsnight reported that a draft proposed that the deportation of such offenders should end. The draft said: “Government should review its policy and approach to FNOs [foreign national offenders], if necessary through primary legislation. It should consider ending all deportation of FNOs where they arrived in the UK as children (say, before age of 13).

“Alternatively, deportation should only be considered in the most severe cases.”

In response to the latest claims, Labour’s David Lammy, a vocal campaigner over the scandal caused by the government’s “hostile environment” policy, demanded that the “truth must be published in full”.

“The Windrush scandal resulted in the systematic deportation and detention of black British citizens by the UK Home Office,” the Tottenham MP said.

“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.”

A leaked draft of of the review, seen by Channel 4 News, said the Home Office failed in its legal duty to counter racial discrimination when it implemented its hostile environment programme.

The damning document accused officials of recklessness and a reluctance to acknowledge and learn from their mistake.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “This is an independent review being led by Wendy Williams. She has not yet submitted the final report to the Home Office. Once we have received it, we will publish it as soon as practicable. Ministers have not seen any version of the report.”


Jamie Grierson Home affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
What is the Windrush review?
The review was set up to shed light on the events that led to the Windrush scandal

Jamie Grierson Home affairs correspondent

21, Feb, 2020 @2:31 PM

Article image
Windrush: ministers asked how many died before payout
Scheme has made payments to just 36 people, despite 11,000 being eligible

Amelia Gentleman

10, Feb, 2020 @8:10 PM

Article image
MPs refer Home Office to equalities watchdog over Windrush scandal
ECHR asked to investigate whether immigration policies represent institutional racism

Amelia Gentleman

30, Apr, 2019 @11:01 PM

Article image
MPs accuse home secretary of protecting PM over Windrush
Amber Rudd ‘deeply regrets’ failure to spot scale of problem of a generation of Britons being wrongly targeted by immigration authorities

Pippa Crerar and Peter Walker

26, Apr, 2018 @6:54 AM

Article image
Windrush inquiry head disappointed as Braverman drops ‘crucial’ measures
Wendy Williams’s remarks come after home secretary confirms three key commitments will not be implemented

Amelia Gentleman and Rajeev Syal

26, Jan, 2023 @7:57 PM

Article image
Windrush: Home Office has failed to transform its culture, report says
Independent expert Wendy Williams finds ‘lack of tangible progress or drive to achieve cultural changes required’

Amelia Gentleman

31, Mar, 2022 @5:04 PM

Article image
Windrush claimants 'tip of the iceberg' as payout struggle continues
Just £62,198 issued to date from compensation pot expected to distribute up to £570m

Amelia Gentleman and Peter Walker

09, Feb, 2020 @6:03 PM

Article image
Windrush payments to be fast-tracked and made more generous
Home secretary will announce radical reforms to compensation scheme after criticism

Amelia Gentleman

13, Dec, 2020 @6:00 PM

Article image
Remove Windrush payout scheme from Home Office, urges Labour
MPs highlight delays and difficulties in accessing compensation, in Commons debate marking Windrush Day

Amelia Gentleman

01, Jul, 2021 @3:52 PM

Article image
Windrush scandal: cross-government group aims to tackle 'terrible' treatment
Home Office says it will launch ad campaign to ensure people are aware of support available

Amelia Gentleman

21, Jun, 2020 @11:01 PM