LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said it would formally apologise to 18 members of the “Windrush generation” who were forced to leave or detained because they were not issued with documents when they came to the country from the Caribbean after World War Two.
The scandal damaged the authority of Prime Minister Theresa May, who had led efforts to tackle illegal immigration when she led the Home Office, and resulted in the resignation of her Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
May said earlier this year that the treatment of thousands of migrants who were invited to fill labour shortages in post-war Britain on ships such as the Empire Windrush had been “appalling”.
The government said 18 people had been identified in a review of removals and detentions affecting Caribbean nationals, of whom 11 went on voluntarily to leave Britain and seven were detained but subsequently released without being removed.
Fourteen of the 18 had been contacted and would be given the option to return, it said. They would also be guided to a compensation scheme.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the experiences faced by some members of the Windrush generation were completely unacceptable.
“I would like to personally apologise to those identified in our review and am committed to providing them with the support and compensation they deserve,” he said on Tuesday.
“We must do everything we can to ensure that nothing like this happens again – which is why I have asked an independent adviser to look at what lessons we can learn from Windrush.”
The government also said 74 people were either detained or removed because they had lost their entitlement to stay in Britain after leaving for more than two years, and a further 72 people were detained temporarily at port but allowed to enter.
A task-force set up after the scandal had helped 2,272 people to get the documentation they needed to prove their existing right to be in the UK, the government said.
A further 1,465 people had been granted citizenship or documentation to prove their status under a formal Windrush Scheme.
Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Stephen Addison