Author: May Bulman
Amber Rudd has said Home Office officials “misled” her about illegal deportations when the Windrush scandal was emerging, claiming that those in charge of the government’s immigration enforcement “didn’t know what was going on”.
The former home secretary resigned from her post in April, saying she had “inadvertently misled” MPs over the crisis, which exposed the fact that hundreds of Commonwealth nationals had been wrongly targeted by immigration officials, with some wrongly deported.
Ms Rudd told the BBC she would “quite like” to be home secretary again because there were “a few things [she would] like to do a bit better than last time”.
The now backbench politician apologised at the time, but her handling of the crisis was criticised as she sought to defend the wider impact of the government’s “hostile environment“ policy, designed to deter illegal immigration.
During one appearance before a Commons committee, Ms Rudd said there were no removals targets for illegal immigrants – a claim that was subsequently contradicted by a 2015 inspection report.
She later admitted “local” targets for voluntary removals had been set but told the Commons she had not been aware of them. This was subsequently contradicted by a June 2017 memo from an official, which she was sent, that referred to targets.
Speaking on the Political Thinking with Nick Robinson podcast, Ms Rudd said she should have done more to find out what was happening, but that when she started “really probing … it became evident that [officials] didn’t know what was going on”.
She added: “I was told certain things that turned out not to be true … Even at the time when I resigned, I was still being told it’s unlikely that we have illegally deported anybody.
“And a week later, the new home secretary announced we had 64. So they just didn’t know what the facts were.”
Ms Rudd said it had made her more sceptical about civil servants – but she praised those she worked with on counter-terrorism as “fantastic”.
She said she was trying to “play a part” as a backbencher, but added: “I would quite like to be home secretary again, if I ever got the opportunity, because there’s a few things I’d like to do a bit better than last time.
“I would like to get immigration enforcement right. I think that there is a problem there and it needs some really careful analysis and a brutal look at who’s doing what and who’s got what powers where.”
Her successor, Sajid Javid, revealed in August that more than 160 Windrush citizens could have been wrongfully detained or deported from the UK.
He vowed to apologise to the families of 18 people “most likely to have suffered detriment because their right to be in the UK was not recognised”.