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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Windrush row: National Archives records could prove right to remain

Arrival ledgers could help those whose landing cards were destroyed

Demonstrators hold placards during a protest in support of the Windrush generation in Windrush Square, Brixton in London. Chris J Ratcliffe/ Getty Images
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest in support of the Windrush generation in Windrush Square, Brixton in London. Chris J Ratcliffe/ Getty Images

Arrival records stored at the UK National Archives could be used as vital evidence for Windrush migrants who are struggling to prove they have a right to remain.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the British Home Office destroyed thousands of landing cards in 2010 belonging to Commonwealth citizens who began arriving in the UK on the Empire Windrush ship and other vessels from 1948.

The “Windrush generation”, who travelled to the UK on their parent’s passports, have been caught up in a tightening of immigration rules, which has led to many of them being erroneously declared illegal immigrants.

The landing cards had been used by officials to establish an arrival date. Anyone who arrived before 1973 is legally entitled to remain in the UK.

The National Archives files include the personal details of more than 85,000 immigrants, who came to the UK before 1960.

Ian Robinson, of law firm Fragomen UK, told the Financial Times he would use the records when representing clients who are struggling to prove their status.

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Read more:

Britain to consider compensating 'Windrush generation'

Windrush row: Calls for investigation into landing card destruction

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“That would seem like quite good evidence,” Mr Robinson told the publication.

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May has said the government will consider compensating those who have been wrongly labelled as illegal entrants.

"The UK will do whatever it takes, including where appropriate payment of compensation, to resolve the anxieties and problems which some of the Windrush generation have suffered," Mrs May said at the end of a two-day meeting of Commonwealth leaders.

Caribbean leaders were given an “absolute commitment” earlier this week that “the UK will do whatever it takes including, where appropriate, payment of compensation, to resolve the anxieties and problems that some of the Windrush generation have suffered”, Mrs May added.

The Windrush row overshadowed the Commonwealth heads of government event in London.

Mrs May has apologised for the sufferings felt by the Windrush migrants, which was a result of her “hostile environment” policy during her time as Home Secretary in 2012.

The policy was designed to make it as difficult as possible for people without the right paperwork to live, work and access key services in the UK.

The “hostile environment” has affected the Windrush generation, who have lived and worked in the UK for decades with little paperwork.

Since the news broke, stories have emerged of Caribbean migrants who arrived in the 1950’s and 1960’s being denied healthcare, losing their employment and being threatened with deportation for not having the right documentation.