Source : Chris Baynes
The Home Office has been accused of “outrageous” conduct after a homeless Windrush citizen was arrested at a meeting about his immigration status.
The 62-year-old, from London, had been invited to discuss his citizenship with officials but was handcuffed and taken into custody over an alleged minor offence more than a decade ago.
The father-of-three, named only as Oliver, was taken to Pentonville prison, where he remains. He denies an allegation of handling stolen goods.
“This is outrageous. Oliver is the face of the hostile environment,” said Labour’s David Lammy, who is the man’s MP.
He added: “The prime minister and home secretary have repeatedly told Windrush citizens to come forward to the Home Office.
“The prime minister told me in parliament and in writing that no enforcement action will be taken against anyone that comes forward to the Home Office.
“My constituent did what he was told and he is now in prison. I have been to see him this morning in custody and I am shocked and appalled at how he has been treated,” Mr Lammy said on Friday.
Jeremy Corbyn described Oliver’s case as “absolutely shocking”.
In a tweet to home secretary Savid Javid, the Labour leader said: “What happened to your promise to make things right?”
The government last month established a Windrush taskforce to help those caught up in the scandal to obtain the documents required to prove their right to remain in the UK.
As well as Caribbean migrants who settled in Britain during the Windrush era, from 1948 and 1973, the Home Office offered assistance to people from Commonwealth countries who arrived in the UK before 1988.
It followed changes to immigration law in 2014 that led to people being threatened with deportation, losing their jobs or being denied medical treatment because they did not have paperwork to show their residency.
Mr Lammy said Oliver, who arrived in the UK from Jamaica in 1976, had been left homeless because of concerns about his immigration status.
“He is jobless and has been denied access to benefits and healthcare for years because of the Home Office,” the MP for Tottenham said.
“He has been in the underground economy for decades living hand to mouth because of the Home Office.”
He added: “Home Office caseworkers came to my constituency surgery last Friday to encourage him to come forward.
“He did so on Monday and instead of his citizenship and passport he got thrown in prison.
“He went for his passport and left in handcuffs.”
Theresa May has pledged information received by the Windrush taskforce would not be passed to immigration enforcement officials.
Asked about the issue by Mr Lammy last month, the prime minister said there was “no question of taking enforcement action” when people call a hotline set up to provide advice.
However, the government did not say anything about information being provided to police.
James Elliott, head of public law at Wilson Solicitors LLP, said: “What normally happens when you’re arrested is you go to a police station but [Oliver] said this didn’t happen.
“This is not an endorsement for people who may or may not have committed offences but this appointment at the Home Office was made in good faith.
“The Home Office informed police and effectively trapped him.
“We are not saying if wanted for serious crime, nothing should happen, but this is totally disproportionate and highly counterproductive.”
The Home Office said it was “abiding strictly” to its commitment not to share information gathered by the taskforce with immigration enforcement.
It said police checks were carried out on all immigration cases and staff would contact police if a “wanted” marker appeared on the national computer database.