A social activist and former councillor condemned the Government for its lack of action in the wake of the Windrush scandal.  

Speaking at a Lambeth Pensioners Action Group meeting on Wednesday (February 17), Patrick Vernon OBE, who led the successful campaign for a recognised Windrush Day, urged people to contact their MP and demand the Government apologises to all those affected and provides adequate compensation.  

He said after the scandal came to national attention there was a “big public outcry”. 

 “It’s not often that Governments apologise. 

“Can you think of a time when a Government has apologised more than 20 or 30 times on one issue? 

“Three things happened because of public opinion and the Government [being] exposed as abusing the human rights of British people, people that were deported, people that were refused entry to Britain, people in detention centres, people losing their jobs – five people in Britain have died over the hostile environment policy,” he said.  

Mr Vernon spoke of the creation of the Windrush task force to fast track the status of people who came to Britain between 1948 up to 1988, the ‘Lessons Learned’ review into the Home Office, and the launch of the compensation scheme.  

But he said: “It was estimated that up to 200,000 people may be affected by the scandal [and] so far just 8,000 people have had their status sorted out.  

“The Home Office has done two things to make it difficult. 

“If you compare the EU settled scheme – the Government has spent over £40 million in TV and radio adverts encouraging the three million EU nationals to sort out their status. 

“Yet they’ve hardly spent any money at all promoting stuff that will help people of the Windrush generation sort out their status. 

“Secondly, they have redefined what is Windrush.  

“If you have a criminal conviction, they won’t recognise you, no matter how big or small the conviction is. They have rejected nearly 1,000 cases because of this.  

“They also use what is known as a good character test, which means […] if you have a mental health problem or ‘we’re not quite sure about you’, or you haven’t given clear answers in your application form, you’re not of good character. 

“They also have a cut-off date. If anyone came to Britain after 1988, they are not recognised.” 

The Lessons Learned review has been delayed, while only three per cent of people affected have been compensated.  

The Government has also reneged on its promise to halt deportation flights.  

Mr Vernon said: “Out of 1,000 applications they’ve only given out 36 awards to the value of £63,000.  

“The Home Office spent £3 million on the administrative systems for the compensation scheme.” 

Mr Vernon has launched a petition calling for a change in the way the compensation scheme works.  

He said: “They should say straight away, not only do we apologise, but we’re going to sort you out. 

“The attitude is completely wrong – it should be based on the principles of restorative justice. 

“There should be an automatic payment of £10,000 for everyone who’s been affected by the scandal and on top of that they can claim extra for losses.  

“There should be a written apology for every single person – they’ve only written to people who have died or some high-profile victims of the scandal.  

“You should contact your local MP because there’s going to be debate at committee stage on the compensation scheme bill. 

“Say to your local MP we want you to ensure there is a decent compensation package for the Windrush generation and to make sure that the scheme meets the community’s needs.” 

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are righting the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation.

“This includes extending the Windrush Compensation Scheme, which has been carefully designed with independent oversight so that it is as easy to use as possible.

“The scheme provides a decision to applicants as soon as possible but it is right that we take the necessary time to ensure these are dealt with properly.

“Those on the charter flight were foreign national offenders, with no entitlement to British nationality and we make no apology whatsoever for seeking to remove dangerous foreign criminals.”