Home Office's Windrush apology is a 'good start' says Northampton man held in Jamaica for two years

Joe Robinson was prevented from returning from Jamaica in 2009 as a result of the Home Office error.
Joe Robinson was prevented from returning from Jamaica in 2009 as a result of the Home Office error.

A Northampton Windrush migrant says the Home Office's apology to 18 people removed or detained from the country is a "step in the right direction" - though some 164 could have been affected.

Joe Robinson came to England on his mother's passport as a a six-year-old and has lived in Northampton for over 50 years.

But in 2009, on the return home from a family holiday to see his father, he was held at the airport in Jamaica because he could not prove his residency in the UK.

The grandfather-of-three spent the following two years in a Kingston bedsit, unable to provide for himself or see his family.

The 58-year-old is among possibly hundreds of migrants whose landing cards were lost or “shredded” by the Home Office as part of what has come to be known as the Windrush Scandal.

Today, after months of stalemate, home secretary Sajid Javid has apologised to 18 migrants who it says have been wrongfully removed from the country or detained as a result of the blunder.

Any who are not in the UK will be given the option to return and will also be guided to a compensation scheme once it has been established.

The scheme will be open to those who have suffered loss or difficulty as a result of not being able to prove their status in the UK.

However Mr Robinson, who lost his council flat as a result of his inability to return home in 2009, says he is not among the 14 to have received an apology so far.

Mr Javid's statement was immediately overshadowed by the fact the Home Office also acknowledged that it was looking at 164 cases where people had been either wrongly detained, forcibly removed from the country or mistakenly told they must leave the country.

Officials said the circumstances in which some of the 164 had been detained or encouraged to leave were not yet known, which they said is why official apologies were only being made to 18 people for the moment.

But Mr Robinson said it was a "good start" as there is now real hope he and many others will receive compensation.

"This will help people but it won't make up for it," he said.

"Sometimes I can't sleep at night, I try but it keeps me awake. That was what it was like every night when I was kept over there. I still think about it all the time."

Mr Robinson has been offered a new house by Northampton Borough Council after the Chron revealed he owed the council some £4,000 in rent arrears when he returned from his ordeal in Jamaica.

"I am slowly, slowly, starting to get back ion my feet," he said. "But until this is all over, I will struggle for some time."

Home secretary Sajid Javid said: “The experiences faced by some members of the Windrush generation are completely unacceptable and I am committed to righting the wrongs of the past.

“I would like to personally apologise to those identified in our review and am committed to providing them with the support and compensation they deserve.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that nothing like this happens again – which is why I have asked an independent adviser to look at what lessons we can learn from Windrush.”