West Indians who may have been affected by the Windrush Generation scandal are being encouraged to continue to make submissions directly and confidentially to the Home Office Adviser, Martin Forde QC.
At the meeting with CARICOM high commissioners and diaspora representatives on Thursday 8 June, Forde reiterated that, “notwithstanding the fact that the call for evidence by the Home Office for the Windrush compensation scheme was to end on 8 June, persons could still contact him directly.” Noting that many submissions had already been sent straight to him, Forde stated that “given the culture of fear and mistrust, some people and their legal representatives seem more comfortable interacting with me than through the Home Office.”
In introducing the Home Office adviser, Guy Hewitt, Barbados’ High Commissioner to the UK, indicated that Forde, a graduate of Oxford University, “was appointed by the UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid in May 2018 on the recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett to provide independent advice to the Home Office on how to compensate people who suffered after being wrongly treated as illegal immigrants.”
In thanking the West Indian diaspora for their welcome and support, Forde emphasised that any submissions made, or any information provided to him or the Home Office would not be shared with UK Immigration or Boarder Agency or used as a basis for enforcement proceedings. The diaspora was also assured of his willingness to travel across the UK to engage with Caribbean groups once the high commissions could coordinate such meetings.
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid previously stated that if their Government is to “design a compensation scheme that effectively addresses the issues these people have faced it is vital that we listen. To put things right we need to understand more about what happened and to understand the personal stories. That is exactly what the call for evidence is about.”
The meeting heard that the submissions would allow Forde to get “a good sense of the suffering caused by the Home Office’s treatment of a generation of people from the Caribbean who journeyed to the UK, post-World War II at the invitation of the British Government, and although seemingly entering the UK as Citizens of the UK and Colonies and living here most of their lives, began to experience severe difficulties around 2014 in particular with the government’s implementation of a ‘hostile environment for illegal immigrants’.”
A member of the Middle Temple and a Bencher of that Inn since 2010, Forde advised that he was not yet able “to put a figure on the sum the UK Government would likely have to pay, not least because the precise number of people affected remains uncertain.” However, he was able to confirm that he had not been told by the Home Office that there would be a cap on payments.
With a hugely successful practice in medical negligence and regulatory law involving the calculation of compensation, including a number of major cases in the Privy Council, this descendant of Windrush is an accomplished barrister. Called to the Bar in 1984, Forde took Silk in 2006 and in 2009 became a Recorder (part-time Crown Court judge). He also served as a member of the Judicial Appointments Commission for six years from 2012.
The meeting of leaders of the Caribbean diaspora, held at the St Kitts and Nevis High Commission in Kensington, was advised that his proposals for compensation would be followed by a full consultation on the details of the scheme.
At the meeting, Dr Kevin Isaac, the High Commissioner for St Kitts and Nevis who had previously hosted the April 2018 press briefing that broke the Windrush scandal, asserted that “in the interest of ensuring access to the system of justice, the Legal Aid Scheme should be made available to the Windrush Generation on compensation and related matters.”
The CARICOM High Commissioners agreed to liaise through their associations, media networks and social media to support the continued call to evidence.
The Home Office was also asked, through Forde, to seek the assistance of the British High Commissions in the Caribbean to reach out to those affected persons, whom may have been denied a right to return to the UK or may be challenged in trying to contact the Home Office in London.
Written submissions can be sent via Martin.Forde@1cor.com or to his chambers located at 1 Crown Office Row, Temple, London EC4Y 7HH UK.