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UK Home Office institutionally racist, says Windrush report

The independent review into the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy was set up following the Windrush scandal in 2018

A review that found the Home Office was “institutionally racist” over its treatment of migrants has been watered down, according to a report.

The independent review into the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy – which was supposed to be published in March last year – was set up following the Windrush scandal in 2018, in which it was revealed that Caribbean migrants to Britain after World War Two were deported despite having the right to live in the UK.

In an early draft of the report, led by inspector of constabulary Wendy Williams, the Home Office was described as “institutionally racist”. But in later versions this characterisation was removed, according to sources reported by The Times.

Previous leaked extracts of the report said the department had been “reckless” and had a “defensive culture” over how it handled immigration. A leak that emerged last week said the government should end the removal of foreign-born offenders who arrived in the UK as children. According to The Times, this recommendation has also been removed from the latest version.

David Lammy, the Labour MP who has campaigned for the rights of Britain’s Windrush citizens, demanded that the “truth must be published in full”.

The Windrush scandal resulted in the systematic deportation and detention of black British citizens by the UK Home Office,” the Tottenham MP said.

“The victims’ nationality and rights were denied because of the colour of their skin. If this is not institutionally racist I have no idea what is.

“It would be an outrage and an insult to the Windrush generation for Wendy Williams’ independent Review to be watered down for political reasons.”

The Home Office did not deny the report had been toned down.

“This is an independent review being led by Wendy Williams,” a spokesman said. “She has not yet submitted the final report to the Home Office. Once we have received it, we will publish it as soon as practicable. Ministers have not seen any version of the report.”

Criticism of the government’s anti-immigrant “hostile environment” led to the resignation of Amber Rudd as Home Secretary in 2018.

An internal Home Office survey last August found that immigration staff were seeing rising levels of discrimination from colleagues.

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