Windrush: Home Office chief tells staff he is ‘very proud’ of response to scandal amid storm of criticism
Sir Philip Rutnam praises officials – even as an official report exposes major blunders that forced Amber Rudd’s resignation
Sir Philip Rutnam praised officials for having “served the public in working to put this right”, even as an investigation exposed major failings that forced Amber Rudd’s resignation.
The former home secretary has seized on the report to accuse her staff of a series of leaks that were “definitely intended to embarrass me”, prompting fresh criticism that the Home Office is in chaos.
Meanwhile, the Windrush victims are still waiting to hear how they will be compensated for their suffering. Some have been left destitute after losing jobs, benefits and even homes.
David Lammy, a Labour Windrush campaigner, condemned the email, saying Sir Philip should feel “contrition for his department’s tragedy of errors”.
“So far, the Home Office has failed to provide a penny of compensation or a hardship fund for any of my constituents denied the right to work, deported, detained, made homeless and jobless by the department’s failings.
“Lost records, slow response times, and a lack of empathy continue to characterise too many of my constituents’ interactions with the Home Office.”
The Windrush generation was trapped by Theresa May’s “hostile environment” crackdown, when they were unable to provide the correct documents to employers, landlords and the NHS acting as “de facto border guards”.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has been criticised for slamming the brakes on a compensation scheme – despite the prime minister promising to act in April – and for planning to cap payments.
In the email, obtained by The Times, Sir Philip wrote: “There are lessons to be learnt following these events but I remain very proud of the way the department responded to Windrush and served the public in working to put this right.”
He said many staff would be “disappointed by the decision to publish” the report into the events leading up to Ms Rudd’s resignation.
Ms Rudd quit in April after she “inadvertently misled” parliament by wrongly telling MPs that there were no targets for the removal of illegal immigrants.
The report, by an independent adviser to the prime minister, was slipped out on a Friday, when MPs are away from Westminster. It states that officials repeatedly gave Ms Rudd inaccurate information and failed to act on the mistakes quickly enough to prevent her resignation.
Sir Philip is believed to have resisted publication of the report, but was overruled by No 10. Two senior officials criticised in it have been moved to other high-powered Whitehall jobs.
The Home Office declined to comment on the leaked email, as Mr Rudd questioned why the report had been “sat on for nearly six months”.
Sir Philip now faces questioning by the Home Affairs Committee over the debacle, after the report provided “troubling evidence”, said its chair Yvette Cooper.
“The decisions the Home Office takes have huge repercussions for people’s lives – as we saw in the Windrush cases – so we cannot afford for the Home Office to be dysfunctional,” she said.
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