OTS Solicitors' Senior Lawyer, Stephen Slater, comments on Home Secretary's apology to Windrush victims

In an official statement released on the 10th June Home Secretary Sajid Javid claims that evidence suggest that Windrush migrants 
 
"came to the UK from the Caribbean before 1973 and stayed here permanently but were unable to demonstrate their continuous residence here which led to action being taken against them".
 
The Secretary of State told the Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP Chair of the Home Affairs Committee that 6,470 individuals have been granted some form of documentation by the Taskforce to regularise their status.
 
One could draw the conclusion from the Home Secretary’s words that the conduct of people "unable to demonstrate their continuous residence" inexorably "led to action being taken against them".  I am afraid that in the words attributed to Winston Churchill “a lie is halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on”. 
 
Settled migrants who came to the United Kingdom in the 1970’s obtained indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK, ex lege (by operation of law), on the commencement of the Immigration Act 1971 on 1 January 1973 
 
The Immigration Act 1971, s 1(2) says.
 
"Those not having that right may live, work and settle in the United Kingdom by permission and subject to such regulation and control of their entry into, stay in and departure from the United Kingdom as is imposed by this Act; and indefinite leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom shall, by virtue of this provision be treated as having been given under this Act to those in the United Kingdom at its coming into force, if they are then settled there (and not exempt under this Act from the provisions relating to leave to enter or remain)."
 
Commonwealth citizens who settled in the UK before the 1st January 1973 were free of Immigration control by automatic operation of law.  Commonwealth migrants did not have to apply for anything and they certainly did not need to document themselves.
 
In legal terms claims to the contrary are like a quack dentist saying I’ve had to extract your tooth when the patient is already wearing dentures. For the Home Office to suggest that they didn’t understand (or remember) s.1(2) of the Immigration Act 1971 is like a police officer saying he couldn’t arrest a shop lifter because he forgot about s.1 of the Theft Act 1968.
 
Windrush was not a mistake, it was not an oversight it was a conscious abuse of the constitutional rights of British citizens and settled migrants. It is indefensible because it is unlawful and no amount of dissembling about lost documents undermines the status of settled British law.
 

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