Questions of ‘institutional racism’ need to be answered by Home Office

Thursday 28 March 2024

Our Joint Head of Chambers, Grace Brown is acting for the claimant, Mr Donald, led by Phillippa Kaufmann KC and instructed by Dr Connie N Maina Sozi of Deighton Pierce Glynn.

Our Nicola Braganza KC and Bijan Hoshi are acting for the intervener, Black Equity Organisation (BEO), instructed by Public Law Project.

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National Civil Rights Organisation calls on Home Secretary to commit to Windrush recommendations

Following a decision by Mrs Justice Thornton, permission has been given for a judicial review challenge to the decision by the Home Office, under former Home Secretary Suella Braverman MP, to drop three key recommendations from the Williams Windrush Lessons Learned Review, which investigated the Windrush Scandal.

Mrs Justice Thornton’s decision also allowed Black Equity Organisation (BEO), represented by Public Law Project, and Unison to intervene in the proceedings, supporting the claimant Mr Trevor Donald, a recognised Windrush Scandal survivor. The judge said that both organisations had “relevant knowledge to assist the Court”.

BEO commissioned an expert report from Frances Webber, trustee and former Vice Chair of the Institute of Race Relations, which sets out the historical legislative mistreatment of the Windrush generation and concludes that dropping key recommendations from the Williams Review is a manifestation of the institutional racism that continues to pervade Home Office culture and decision-making –Mrs Justice Thornton said of the expert report that it was “reasonably required to resolve the proceedings”.

BEO’s Director of Legal Services, Kehinde Adeogan said:

“The fact that BEO has been granted permission to intervene indicates that the Court accepts the historical mistreatment and discrimination of the Windrush generation is relevant to the legality of the Home Secretary’s decision not to implement all the recommendations.

“The Government must comply with and adhere to the principles of equalities law, including the Public Sector Equality Duty, and rights under the European Convention on Human Rights when making decisions. BEO applied to intervene in this case to argue that there was a failure by Government to apply those principles and rights, and that the Windrush generation has been impacted as a result.”

Following Mrs Justice Thornton’s order permitting the case to go ahead, the case has been listed to be heard on 23rd April 2024. In advance of that, Black Equity Organisation is urging the current Home Secretary, James Cleverly MP, to reverse the decision of his predecessor, Suella Braverman MP, to drop these recommendations.

Timi Okuwa, CEO of Black Equity Organisation, commented:

“Given the particular and specific discrimination that the Windrush generation experienced, Suella Braverman should have looked at her decision not to implement all the recommendations through the lens of historic discrimination and institutional racism. In failing to do so, we believe she has unlawfully discriminated against the Windrush community.

“We are now calling on the current Home Secretary to re-consider that decision and to reinstate the commitment to implement all the Williams Review recommendations.”

Background on the legal challenge

  • The claimant in the case is Mr Donald, a recognised Windrush victim.
  • Mr Donald’s legal challenge is to the decision of (then) Home Secretary Suella Braverman not to continue with a promise given by previous Home Secretary Priti Patel to implement all of the recommendations made by Wendy Williams, published in the Windrush Lessons Learned Review.
  • On 26 Jan 2023, Suella Braverman announced to Parliament that she was not proceeding with three previously accepted recommendations:
    • Recommendation 3: To run reconciliation events which would enable people who had been impacted by the scandal to articulate this impact on their lives, in the presence of trained facilitators and/or specialist services and senior Home Office staff and ministers so that they can listen and reflect on their stories.
    • Recommendation 9: To introduce a Migrants’ Commissioner that would be responsible for speaking up for migrants and those affected by the system, including being an advocate for individuals. Purpose being to identify systemic concerns.
    • Recommendation 10: Review the remit and role of the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI), including considering whether to give the CI power to publish reports and to require ministers to publish clearly articulated and justified reasons when they do not implement recommendations.
  • The claimant asserts that the decision to renege on the promises breached his legitimate expectation that they would be adhered to and resulted in him being discriminated against contrary to ECHR, Article 14, taken in conjunction with Article 8. He also argues that the decision was in breach of the Home Secretary’s Public Sector Equality Duty and her duty of inquiry.

The above content has been reproduced from a BEO press release.

Read more in Grace Brown's blog: 'Windrush - When is a Promise Not a Promise?'.

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