Actor Colin McFarlane and Annie Lennox Join Musicians, Celebrities and Campaigners to Fight for #Justice4Windrush

Open letter to Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer demands immediate compensation for thousands of victims

London, 15th January 2024 – Prominent actor and campaigner Colin McFarlane, joined by internationally renowned singer, songwriter and campaigner Annie Lennox has today launched #Justice4Windrush (https://justice4windrush.org), calling for swift and full government compensation for the Windrush generation.

In an open letter signed by celebrity supporters and issued to both the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak MP and to Sir Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Labour Party, a host of famous names including rapper and producer AJ Tracey, campaigner Baroness Doreen Lawrence, as well as leading charities and campaigners, highlight how the Home Office continues to inflict suffering on Windrush families by failing to give them the compensation they are entitled to. 

With more than 40 Windrush victims having died while waiting for compensation, news in June 2023 of the disbandment of the Home Office Windrush Transformation Team has been a source of further dismay. 

The open letter draws particular attention to the following injustices: 

  • When the Windrush Compensation Scheme was launched in April 2019, the Home Office estimated that around 15,000 people would be eligible for compensation. 
  • As of January 2024, only 13.8% of those eligible had received any compensation.
  • As of April 2023, 1 in 6 applicants (16%) have been waiting for over a year for a result, with around half of these (7.5%) waiting for more than 18 months.
  • The Home Office has refused to give applicants legal aid – making the path to justice even more difficult.
  • Just £73.58 million of an allocated £200-500 million has been awarded to victims.

 To rectify this, the #Justice4Windrush campaign calls for the government to: 

  1. Make full and swift compensation for Windrush victims a Home Office priority. Reinstating the Transformation Team and Windrush Working Group is crucial.
  2. To ensure its credibility with claimants, remove the Windrush Compensation Scheme from the Home Office and identify or create an independent and neutral body or organisation to operate it and make appeal decisions.
  3. Direct the Home Office to ensure more transparent, independent oversight over its administration of the scheme, including quarterly, detailed public reports on the scheme’s operation by the independent assessor. 
  4. Ensure that legal aid is guaranteed to all eligible claimants. 
  5. Lower the burden of proof for claims and compensate fully for losses and impact on life, regardless of the complexity. 
  6. Stop deportations. Trust is gone. So many have been deported in error. Already traumatised victims need to feel safe to come forward. 
  7. End the decades long history of covert racist immigration laws and bring an end to the Hostile Environment immigration policy 
  8. Pledge full compensation to Windrush victims as part of its forthcoming general election manifesto.

Commenting on the campaign, Colin McFarlane said: 

The Home Office scandal that impacted the Windrush generation is not over. Yet 90% of the country think it is. In 2022, a leaked internal report* commissioned by the Home Office revealed that, ‘during the period 1950-1981, every single piece of immigration or citizenship legislation was designed at least in part to reduce the number of people with black or brown skin who were permitted to live and work in the UK’. 

2012’s hostile environment policy has exacerbated this institutional racism, resulting in over 15,000 victims and rising. The woeful 2019 compensation scheme has added insult to injury and merely prolonged the trauma and is yet another illustration of decades long discrimination by the Home Office against migrants of colour. We need justice for the Windrush generation, now.

Annie Lennox said: 

With #Justice4Windrush, we want to put the issue of Windrush front and centre, to ensure that the Windrush generation are seen, heard and healed. Bigotry, hatred and racism have pervaded the British establishment for too long. We need to put an immediate stop to the tragic injustice of this Home Office Scandal. Windrush victims deserve nothing less.

Martin Forde KC, legal adviser to the #Justice4Windrush campaign and legal adviser to the Home Office on the design of the Windrush Compensation Scheme, said: 

The Windrush Compensation Scheme has left many victims in a state of limbo. We have heard stories of individuals being wrongly denied tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of compensation, and of families whose lives have been torn apart while they await an outcome. This is unacceptable and we are calling on the Home Office to move quickly to deliver compensation for eligible Windrushees.

Drawing support from campaigners and celebrities across the entertainment industries including AJ Tracey, Eddie Marsan, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Jazmine Flowers, Jay Blades, Hannah Waddingham and Adrian Lester, and with the participation of Windrushees, the #Justice4Windrush campaign has a number of key activation points:

The video release later this month of an exclusive re-recording of ‘Why?’ by Annie Lennox, featuring celebrity campaign supporters

The launch of a film entitled ‘The Home Office Scandal’, on the life of Windrush victim and World War Two Veteran Flt Sgt Peter Brown

A social media campaign fronted by high-profile supporters promoting ‘Why?’ and featuring the #Justice4Windrush banner 

Join the fight for #Justice4Windrush by signing the open letter here and by tagging #Justice4Windrush on social media.

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