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News > World

Whistleblowers: UK Home Office Destroyed Windrush Generation's Landing Cards

  • A sign stands on display at Windrush Square in the Brixton district of London, Britain.

    A sign stands on display at Windrush Square in the Brixton district of London, Britain. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 April 2018

Lawmaker David Lammy, said the archive's destruction, was “no accident.”


The United Kingdom's Home Office destroyed thousands of landing card slips and other documentation, which registered the arrival dates of immigrants from Windrush Generation to the country, despite warnings that the move would make difficult to check the records of Caribbean-born residents experiencing difficulties with there residential status.

Labour's Emily Thornberry Calls on Theresa May to ‘Apologise to the Commonwealth for Britain’s Historic Wrongs’

According to an exclusive published by The Guardian, a former Home Office employee who has asked for anonymity, said the decision to destroy the disembarkation cards, which dated back to the 1950s and 60s, was made in 2010 and occurred at a time when the Home Office's Whitgift Centre in Croydon was closed and moved to another location.

“Because it was no longer possible to search in the archive of landing cards, people would be sent a standard letter that would state: ‘We have searched our records, we can find no trace of you in our files,’” said the employee.

The employee added older residents from the West Indies would say that they've "never needed a passport. Now I'm being told I'm not British because there is no record of me."

The Labour MP David Lammy has said the decision to destroy the archive was “no accident.” He emphasized that those responsible for the “fiasco” should resign because of their “systemic incompetence, callousness and cruelty within our immigration system. It is an absolute disgrace that the Home Office has destroyed these documents and then forced Windrush-generation migrants to try and prove their status, threatening them with deportation and stripping them of their rights.”

The records were destroyed in 2010 when Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May was serving as Home Secretary.

Although Amber Rudd, Britain's current home secretary, has vowed to make it easier for Windrush-generation residents to normalize their residency in the United Kingdom easier with the announcement of a new task force this week, according to The Guardian. However, the destruction of the disembarkation cards will probably make the immigration process more difficult.

Speaking about the database destruction, Sir Bob Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, said some government ministers described May's tenure at the Home Office as being “almost reminiscent of Nazi Germany.”

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