'Pay Joe back': Calls mount for Northampton Windrush migrant to be compensated for devastating Home Office blunder

Joe Robinson was made to pay 4,000 and lost his town centre flat when he returned to Northampton following a Home Office mistake in 2011.
Joe Robinson was made to pay 4,000 and lost his town centre flat when he returned to Northampton following a Home Office mistake in 2011.

A Northampton Windrush migrant left stranded in Jamaica for two years by a Home Office mistake was charged £4,000 by the borough council when he returned.

Now politicians are calling for the grandfather-of-three Joe Robinson to be compensated for the loss, which he says has left him homeless for the past seven years.

MP Andrew Lewer has agreed to take up Joe Robinson's cause by writing to the Home Office and the borough council.

MP Andrew Lewer has agreed to take up Joe Robinson's cause by writing to the Home Office and the borough council.

The youth worker was detained in Jamaica on the way home from a family holiday in 2009 because border officials had no record of his UK citizenship.

It has recently emerged the Home Office may have destroyed or lost Joe's landing card from the 1960s along with hundreds of others in what is being dubbed the Windrush Scandal.

It meant he was forced to live in bedsits in Jamaica for nearly two years while he fought to return.

Now Joe is asking the borough council to pay him back the £4,000 in rent arrears they charged him while he was barred from entering his home country.

Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn.

Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn.

The borough continued to bill Joe for his Lawrence Court Council flat during exile and even took him to court when he returned to get the money.

Joe said: "What was I meant to do while I was over there - magic the money?

"It just made me feel sick. No one cared about my situation."

Mr Robinson's sister Nadine, 54, of Weston Favell, managed to keep up payments on his Lawrence Court flat for the first year, but as she was also paying for his lodgings in Jamaica it became too much.

Nadine, who runs her own care business said: "NBC offered no empathy or compassion.

"This is our hometown - we were really disappointed in the council."

Mr Robinson's extraordinary plight came to light a fortnight ago when details of the Windrush Scandal emerged.

For many older people, the cards were the only document proving their arrival date in the UK.

Joe came over to England when he was just six and had lived in his flat near the town centre for 15 years, never missing a rent payment.

But he was evicted soon after returning and Joe has never been able to find accommodation since. He has instead relied on the goodwill of his family to house him.

MP for Northampton South, Andrew Lewer, said he was "shocked" by Joe's plight and has agreed to help fight the 58-year-old's cause.

‘What has happened to Mr Robinson has been nothing short of, not one, but three terrible injustices," said the MP.

"First, he was denied his lawful right to return to his country through no fault of his own, then, as a result, he lost his council flat and had to pay back over £4000 in rent arrears and now he is homeless.”

Mr Lewer has vowed to write to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid to bring the case to his attention.

He says he will also pen letters to Northampton Borough Leader Councillor Jonathan Nunn and Northampton Partnership Homes Chief Executive Mike Kay to ensure Joe is "rehoused as soon as possible."

"Mr Robinson has been through a truly terrible experience that should never have happened and now he deserves our support and help," he added.

Northampton Borough Council has now agreed to meet with Joe to discuss his case.

A spokesperson for Northampton Borough Council said: “We wouldn’t go into the details of an individual case but we are more than happy to discuss the matter directly with Mr Robinson.

“If we receive representation from any MPs we will, as always, respond to them.”