Judge refuses bid
for Windrush challenge

Anthony Brown had sought judicial review

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Anthony Brown’s campaign for justice for Windrush victims received a setback last week when he was refused permission for a judicial review of the government’s compensation scheme.

Brown, co-founder of Windrush Defenders in Manchester, asked the High Court to allow a judicial review of the Home Office’s scheme to pay thousands of people wrongly told to prove their legal status to remain in the country – many of whom were threatened with deportation despite having lived in the UK all their lives.

Brown himself was threatened with deportation in the early 1980s until a campaign forced the government to allow him indefinite leave to remain.

In his submission to the judge, he said the government should treat all Windrush victims as British citizens, rather than forcing them into a naturalisation process, and called for them to be given an additional reparation payment for the loss of their identity as well as compensation.

‘Not fit for purpose’

Many people do not fit within the naturalisation process, Brown said, such as Paulette Wilson, a Windrush campaigner wrongly detained and threatened with deportation to Jamaica before her MP intervened. Wilson died last year aged 64.

Describing the compensation scheme as “not fit for purpose”, Brown wrote in his submission: “How could trust be restored where the laws have not changed which allowed such decisions? Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Brown moved to the UK as a six year old in 1967, with his mum and four siblings. They joined his father, who had been studying here, and settled in Trafford, Greater Manchester. When his dad took up a lecturing job in Jamaica Anthony and one brother were taken back with him.

He returned after school to Manchester but the 1971 Immigration Act had removed the right to reside in the UK from migrants who left the country for more than two years. When he applied to study law and the university told him he was an overseas student, he checked with the Home Office – which replied that he needed to pay overseas student fees or report to Manchester Airport to be deported.

Three decades later, when the Windrush scandal broke in 2018, he was just finishing an Open University law degree. Together with course-mates and volunteer lawyers, he co-founded Windrush Defenders, which helps people apply for their documents via the Windrush Taskforce scheme.

In his application for judicial review, Brown asked for a declaration on the government’s scheme and claimed its refusal to recognise Windrush victims as citizens violates the European Convention on Human Rights. But the Hon Mrs Justice Farbey ruled that the home secretary, Priti Patel, had to apply nationality law as already set down and said it was not the function of judicial review to “develop any particular policy or to propose any particular Bill”.

‘Deflating decision’

Brown has been a British citizen since 2018 but despite his experiences, the judge further ruled that it was not clear to her how he is is “affected by the matters raised in the Claim and so I am not persuaded that he has sufficient interest to bring it”.

According to the National Audit Office, by March this year the Home Office had received only a fifth of the Windrush claims it was expecting, and had paid £14.3 million compensation to 633 people from an estimated total of £60-£260 million.

Last December, the Home Office, in response to parliamentary, media and stakeholder criticism, introduced changes designed to increase and speed up payments, but campaigners argue reparatory payments would be a better way of encouraging more victims to come forward.

As Big Issue North went to press, the Home Office was facing a deadline of 4pm on 20 August to apply for costs from Brown. The judge had given him until 23 August to apply for an oral hearing to pursue his case.

Brown called the judge’s decision “deflating”, adding: “With the plight of thousands of Windrush Scheme applicants refused here in the UK and abroad who are still living in limbo and others caught up in the failing compensation scheme, the wrongs done to the Windrush Generation are not being put right by the UK government. They are being compounded.

“The reputation of our country for guaranteeing equal rights and justice for all is at stake too. This is a time for prayer and reflection.”

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