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Windrush Scandal victim granted Judicial Review of the Home Office refusal to award him compensation

A member of the Windrush Generation who was denied entry to the UK and sent to Jamaica has been given permission to bring a judicial review of the Home Office’s decision to refuse him compensation under the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

Posted on 05 February 2024

Raymond Lee, who first came to the UK as a child in 1971, went to school and worked here, as well as marrying and raising a family, was denied re-entry when he returned from a visit to Jamaica in July 1999. Raymond was travelling on a Jamaican passport, as he had done previously without any issues, when he was refused entry at Heathrow airport, detained and removed from the UK.

Under immigration rules at the time, Jamaican citizens did not need a visa to enter the UK. Raymond had last been in the UK a month before and believed that he was entitled to readmission as he had first come to the UK in 1971 as a child. However, because Raymond was travelling for the first time on a new passport, immigration officials refused to allow him re-entry, because he did not have any documents with him to show that he had lawful status. This was despite his Jamaican passport clearly having been issued in London the previous month and him providing a UK address where he was going to live. There is no evidence immigration officers made any enquiries as to whether he had Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status when he was last in the UK or to check this address before deciding to refuse entry, detaining and then removing him to Jamaica.

Raymond later returned to the UK in 2000 and was subsequently granted ILR. In 2009 he returned to Jamaica when his father became ill and died. Since then, he has not returned to the UK, initially because he was afraid that he would be detained. In 2018, he was granted a 10-year visit visa through the Windrush Scheme, but he has been unable to afford the air fare to travel to the UK.

Picture of Raymond Lee
Picture of Raymond Lee

In 2021 Raymond applied to the Windrush Compensation Scheme seeking compensation for his detention and removal from the UK, loss of access to employment and the impact on his life caused by the failure to admit him to the UK in 1999. The Home Office rejected his claim on the assessment that his ILR had previously lapsed because he had been out of the country for two years before 1999.

However, Raymond’s lawyers, Leigh Day, argue that this decision was fundamentally flawed because, under immigration law until 2000, all ILR immediately lapsed when someone in his situation left the UK. Citizens of Commonwealth countries were instead given the right of readmission to the UK as a returning resident. Therefore, Raymond could not possibly have held ILR at the time he was refused re-entry, and neither did he need it.

In bringing the Judicial Review, Raymond, who is represented by solicitor Stephanie Hill from the law firm Leigh Day, will challenge the Home Secretary’s decision of 20 December 2022 to refuse compensation under the scheme on three grounds:

1. The meaning of the requirement under the Windrush Compensation Scheme for an applicant to show that their losses were caused by an inability to demonstrate lawful status

2. The requirements of immigration law in 1999 (when Raymond was refused re-entry)

3. The approach taken to the evidence in his case

The Home Secretary defends the claim in its entirety, including on the basis that Raymond’s leave had lapsed in July 1999 and because he has been unable to show the conditions on which he had been admitted to the UK when he had last entered.

Raymond's case is funded by the Legal Aid Agency. Counsel instructed are Chris Buttler KC of Matrix Chambers and Adrian Berry of Garden Court Chambers.

Raymond Lee said:

“Not only was I unfairly denied entry and removed from the UK when I was fully entitled to return, I have since been denied compensation for the impact this has had on my life. In the same way that immigration officials failed to allow me entry into the country 24 years ago, the Home Office continues to get it wrong over my compensation claim. This is quite simply adding insult to injury. Whilst I am pleased the High Court will review the compensation decision, it is a pity that I have had to go to these lengths just to get the fair treatment I deserve.”

Solicitor Stephanie Hill said:

“Like so many members of the Windrush Generation, my client has experienced ill-treatment from the Home Office for many years. Firstly, he was denied entry to the UK and sent to Jamaica, despite having first arrived in the UK as a child in the 1970s. To compound this unfairness, he has since been denied compensation for the impact this had on his life. Our client will argue that the Home Office has failed to apply its own immigration law correctly and has taken an unreasonable approach to the evidence in this case. Our client is pleased to have been granted permission for a Judicial Review in the High Court.”

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Stephanie Hill
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Stephanie Hill

Stephanie Hill is a senior associate solicitor in the human rights department at Leigh Day.

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