Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Britain, where those guilty of malfeasance in public office are not brought to task, was no country for a Windrush Generation Jamaican called Rupert Everett

Rupert, who was born in 1945 and died at the age of 74 in 2019, came to Britain from Jamaica at the age 19 in 1962 and in the intervening 57 years he returned to Jamaica just twice. Rupert's problems began in 2016 when he was visited by immigration officials and had his passport confiscated, was classified as an illegal immigrant and threatened with arrest, prison and forcible removal. 

Now, two years after his death the Parliamentary Ombudsman has found that the Home Office made repeated errors in dealing with his case, yet he died without having received an apology or compensation from the Government  Ombudsman. Rob Behrens, who was asked to investigate the case after attempts to complain through the official complaints mechanism failed, said : “A well-loved father and grandfather spent the last years of his life in severe depression and anxiety because he was being wrongfully pursued and threatened by Immigration Enforcement. UK Visas and Immigration failed to adhere to its own standards. It should acknowledge the distress it has caused and make sure cases like this are not repeated ”.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman which provides an independent complaint handling service for grievances that have not been resolved by British Government departments. The Report concluded that the immigration enforcement officials should not have told Rupert that he was in Britain illegally, and missed opportunities to put things right. It stated : 'It is particularly sad that the last years of Everett’s life were characterised by a distressing struggle to validate his right to remain in a country he had the right to live in. The injustice to him caused by the maladministration we have identified was extremely serious'.

Rupert's daughter, Fiona, said he became withdrawn and isolated after the Home Office told him he was an immigration offender : “We haven’t had an explanation or an apology. It wasn’t one person that messed up, it was five departments”.

Those five department were :

* the North-West Immigration Enforcement Department

* the unit responsible for Withdrawing Driving Licences

* the department responsible for issuing Biometric Cards 

* the Nationality Department and the Complaints Section

Sukhdeep Singh, caseworker at the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, who has helped more than 40 Windrush victims, said this was one of the worst cases he had encountered because Rupert had clear documentary proof of his right to be in Britain, but officials ignored the evidence. He said :  “The Home Office showed a complete lack of care about him as an individual”.

Fiona said : “My father was looking forward to spending more time with his family. Instead, he was told that he was going to be thrown out of this country. He changed from being an outgoing family man to becoming depressed and isolating himself from his family. I am pleased that the Ombudsman’s investigation has found that my father was treated appallingly by the Home Office, but am desolated that he is not alive to read the report”.

A Home Office spokesperson said : “The victims of the Windrush scandal faced appalling treatment and we are determined to right these wrongs. We are considering the Ombudsman’s findings and offer our sincere condolences to Mr Everett’s loved ones for their loss”.

A 'condolence' is not an 'apology'.

Belinda Everett, Rupert's daughter said : 

"When they stripped him of his driver's licence that was it. He liked going around and driving himself to different places. My dad was of a pension age so this was a time he was supposed to be enjoying life and they stripped him completely bare. You might have just put him in a prison and locked the door".

The ITV News item about Rupert's case entitled : 'Manchester dad affected by the Windrush scandal wrongly threatened and pursued by the Home Office damning report finds' and with interviews with Rupert's daughters, Rob Behrens and Sukhdeep Singh.

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