Reggae Reggae sauce millionaire Levi Roots has slammed the Government over the Windrush row.
The Jamaican-born entrepreneur, 59, hit out at Theresa May and Amber Rudd, who admitted she did not know whether Caribbean migrants who came to Britain in good faith after the Second World War had been wrongly removed.
Mr Roots, who shot to fame more than a decade ago when he won a deal for his jerk barbecue sauce on Dragons’ Den, appeared on Good Morning Britain today to discuss the fiasco.
Reggae Reggae sauce millionaire Levi Roots has slammed the Government over the Windrush row
The Jamaican-born entrepreneur, 59, hit out at Theresa May and Amber Rudd, who admitted she did not know whether Caribbean migrants who came to Britain in good faith after the Second World War had been wrongly removed
Amber Rudd yesterday admitted members of the ‘Windrush generation’ may have been kicked out of Britain by mistake
He told the ITV show: ‘The Home Secretary said this is an individual problem but I think this stretches further. This is about families and about a whole people.
‘I heard Prince Charles giving a message to the Commonwealth Games from the Queen bigging up the fact that it’s about unity and how great it is.
‘And yet on the other end we’re slinging out one of the greatest workforces that came to fix the country after two world wars.
‘They feel they are British. They pay their tax, get involved. To hear the Home secretary say she doesn’t know what’s going on in her own job is absolutely scandalous.’
In farcical scenes in Parliament yesterday, ministers at first appeared to admit some had been ‘horrendously’ kicked out, then insisted they hadn’t, and then said that they didn’t know.
Miss Rudd faced a call to resign and was summoned to the Commons to apologise for the fiasco. Labour’s David Lammy told fellow MPs it was a ‘day of national shame’.
Mr Roots added: ‘I blame the Prime Minister when she was in the capacity in 2012 when it was a desperate measure for her to bring down the immigration figures. It was not based on anything tangibly it was purely to do that.
Levi Roots with Peter Jones (left) and bottles of his Reggae Reggae Sauce in 2007
Mr Roots, who shot to fame more than a decade ago (pictured in 2007) when he won a deal for his jerk barbecue sauce on Dragons’ Den, appeared on Good Morning Britain today to discuss the fiasco
‘It was the most vulnerable people to pick on and these were people who came to this country, not to scrounge benefits to what a lot people do now, but to work and educate their kids. Thank God my parents came just after the Windrush generation otherwise I would be in a situation like that.
‘I had my own passport when I came. This is about people who didn’t have a passport.
‘People can’t go on holidays because you’re fearing that if you do go on holiday to the place that you were born you only have this connection because you were born there.
‘I think David Lammy was absolutely in his own right to let rip at the Prime Minister. Big up David Lammy, I’ve got to say that.’
Campaigners insisted that at least one person had already been wrongly sent back to Jamaica. It emerged at the weekend that Government officials had refused to meet Caribbean envoys to discuss the cases of those who came from the late 1940s to the 1970s to help rebuild post-war Britain.
Miss Rudd faced a call to resign and was summoned to the Commons to apologise for the fiasco. Labour’s David Lammy told fellow MPs it was a ‘day of national shame’
Despite living here for decades, many have now mistakenly been told they are illegals under a Home Office crackdown on immigration paperwork. Some have lost their right to work, rent property, receive pensions, access bank accounts and have NHS care. Others have been told they risk detention and deportation.
The row turned toxic yesterday when immigration minister Caroline Nokes suggested there had been deportations. As ministers were branded ‘inhumane and cruel’:
– Miss Rudd said the Home Office was ‘too concerned with policy and strategy, and sometimes lost sight of the individual’;
– Commonwealth countries will be contacted to check whether anyone had been wrongly removed;
– A taskforce will speed up the regularisation of immigration status for tens of thousands of citizens;
– Cases will be resolved in two weeks and the £229 fee will be waived;
– Theresa May performed a U-turn by agreeing to meet Caribbean leaders who have been raising concerns;
– A cross-party group of 140 MPs wrote to the Prime Minister demanding ‘immediate and effective’ action.
Miss Nokes made her comments in an interview with Channel 4 News. She said: ‘Potentially they have been deported and I’m conscious that it’s very much in error and that’s an error I want to put right.’
Then she told ITV News that some people had been booted out of the UK ‘horrendously’, adding: ‘I don’t know the numbers, but what I am determined to do going forward is to say we will have no more of this.’
In the aftermath of her interviews, officials insisted no one had been deported in the immigration crackdown.
But then in the Commons, Miss Rudd said she was not aware of any cases but was investigating and conceded some members of the ‘Windrush generation’ may have been wrongly sent back to the Caribbean.
She added: ‘That is why I have asked the high commissioners if they know of any, that they should bring it to me.’
Last night, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said at least one person had wrongly been sent back to Jamaica. Satbir Singh, who is the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘It is true, but it is very difficult to know how many people have been removed. What’s shocking is that the Government admits that it has no record of the numbers.’
Downing Street said Mrs May wanted to ensure that ‘no one with the right to be here will be made to leave’.
Pictured: The SS Empire Windrush which brought the first generation of workers to Britain from the West Indies in 1948
Barbados high commissioner Guy Hewitt told the BBC: ‘Because they came from colonies which were not independent, they thought they were British subjects. And 40, 50 years on are being told by the Home Office that they are illegal immigrants. Some have been detained, are still being detained. Others have been deported.’
Mr Lammy told Miss Rudd: ‘This is a day of national shame and it has come about because of a hostile environment policy that was begun under her Prime Minister.’ He later tweeted: ‘I am disgusted by the Home Secretary’s response. She says she is worried that the Home Office is too concerned with policy and not concerned enough about individuals. Guess what, you’re in charge of the Home Office. You should be considering your position because of this.’
Tory MP Nigel Evans said he was ‘sickened’ by the treatment of Windrush citizens and called on the Home Secretary to carry out an ‘urgent review’ of cases where it was possible an individual had been deported.
Theresa May, pictured with Prince Harry at the Commonwealth summit in London today, has U-turned and will now meet Caribbean leaders to discuss the treatment of Windrush immigrants
Labour MP Lucy Powell said the Home Office was ‘going after soft targets’ rather than genuine illegal immigrants.
The new Home Office taskforce, with 20 personnel, will help individuals identify and gather evidence to confirm their right to be in the UK. It will work with HM Revenue & Customs, Department for Work and Pensions, Department of Health and Department for Education and other bodies for relevant paperwork.
Fees for sorting out the paperwork of those affected will be waived. Cases will be dealt with in two weeks once evidence is gathered.
Albert Thompson has been denied life- saving treatment on the NHS
Albert Thompson, who has been denied life saving treatment on the NHS
Albert Thompson, 63, has lived in London for 44 years – but told he must pay £54,000 for life saving treatment on the NHS.
For three decades Mr Thompson worked, supported a family, and was a head mechanic for a string of garages, and paid his taxes.
His mother arrived in the UK from Jamaica in the Sixties to come and work her as a nurse.
He had surgery for prostate cancer in January last year, before NHS eligibility rules were tightened, and was to begin radiotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, last November.
But when he arrived for his first NHS radiotherapy session following the removal of his prostate, he was told he was not entitled to free treatment.
It is because the Home Office can find no record of Mr Thompson, who was born in Jamaica, in its files.
He lost the Caribbean passport he arrived in the UK with some years ago. And without a British passport – which he’s never had and cannot not get because there is no documentary proof of his arrival here as a teenager in 1973, landlords will not house him and the NHS have told his he can’t have treatment.
He said: ‘At present I’m left in limbo. It feels like I’ve been left to die because the job hasn’t been finished. I get depressed, stressed out, anxious.
‘I used to have a life, to work, to go out, enjoy myself. I had a nice car, a home. I went to the cinema, dancing. But that’s the past. I have to think about the present and it’s hard to come to terms with. I’ve got no money.
‘I’m very angry with the Government that I’m in this position. I’m here legally, but they’re asking me to prove I’m British.’
Mr Thompson worked until 2008 when he was diagnosed with the blood cancer lymphoma and an acute back problem; since then he has been too ill to work.
He was evicted from his rented flat because his landlord wanted to sell it. Tenants must now produce a British passport in order to rent accommodation. As Albert — not his real name — does not have a passport, he could not find a home.
‘I was on the streets for three weeks. I had to beg for food. I felt ashamed. I just asked people in shops if they had anything spare.’
After three weeks, Albert had managed to secure a room through a homeless charity, St Mungo’s. He still lives in that accommodation now.
The Migration Observatory at Oxford University estimates there are 500,000 people resident in the UK who were born in a Commonwealth country and arrived before 1971.
People born in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries are thought to be more affected than those from other Commonwealth nations, as they were more likely to arrive on their parent’s passports without their own ID documents.
Many have never applied for a passport in their own name or had their immigration status formalised, as they regarded themselves as British.
A Home Office spokesman said last night: ‘We are not aware of any specific cases of a person being removed from the UK in these circumstances and we have absolutely no intention of asking anyone to leave who has the right to remain here.’
Elwaldo Romeo has lived in Britain for 60 years – but told he is in UK illegally
Elwado Romeo has lived in the UK for nearly 60 years
Elwaldo Romeo has lived in Britain for almost 60 years, but has now been told by the Home Office that he is in the UK illegally.
He moved from Antigua to the UK when he was four, 59 years ago, and has lived and worked her ever since.
But he received a Home Office letter telling him he was ‘liable to be detained’ because he was a ‘person without leave.’
The letter continued: ‘You have NOT been given leave to enter the United Kingdom within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971.’
He has been told to report fortnightly to Home Office premises. The letter also offered advice on ‘help and support on returning home voluntarily’.
Mr Romeo, 63, said: ‘It scares the living daylights out of you – the threatening language on the letters.
‘This is the country I’ve grown up in. I love it and it’s been very good to me over the years. But I’m devastated it has come to this. I feel like I’m being thrown aside.’
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘We have been in touch with Mr Romeo to assure him that we are urgently reviewing his case and to help make sure that he is providing the correct information to demonstrate his status.’
Romeo said: ‘I’m not impressed with the way they are dealing with me and other people in my situation. People’s lives are on hold. They don’t take into consideration that I’ve been here since I was four.’
Michael Braithwaite’s employers ruled he was an illegal immigrant
Michael Braithwaite lost his teaching assistant job after his employer ruled he was an illegal immigrant
Experienced special needs teaching assistant Michael Braithwaite lost his job after his employers ruled that he was an illegal immigrant – despite living here for more than 50 years.
He arrived in Britain from Barbados in 1961, and had worked at a north London primary school for over 15 years when a routine check on his immigration status revealed he did not have an up to date identity document.
His employer got in touch with him to tell him that without a biometric card he could not continue to be employed. He lost his full time job in 2017, after the local authority ruled he needed to submit proof he had the right to live in the UK.
A biometric card is a residence permit issued to non-British residents, with details of their immigration status
Mr Braithwaite attended primary school and secondary school in Britain, and worked continuously since leaving school. He married in London and has three British children and five grandchildren.
He said: ‘It made me feel like I was an alien. I almost fell apart with the stress. I never applied for a British passport. We thought we were British.’
Enny Choudhury, Braithwaite’s lawyer, from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: ‘For almost one year the Home Office has failed to issue the biometric card, without which he cannot work or move on with his life, causing uncertainty and distress.’
Grandmother Paulette Wilson threatened with deportation
Grandmother Paulette Wilson has finally given leave to remain after a two-and-a-half year struggle
Grandmother Paulette Wilson, from Wolverhampton, was threatened with deportation, despite living here for 50 years.
This month she finally received leave to remain in Britain after a two-and-a-half-year struggle.
The 61-year-old was denied benefits, access to healthcare and refused permission to work.
In 2015 she received a letter saying she had ‘no right’ to be in the country, telling he she had to register each month in Solihull, and she even spent a week in the immigration detention centre in Yarl’s Wood in October.
Mrs Wilson was taken to London Heathrow Airport and threatened with deportation to Jamaica, where she has not returned since leaving age 10.
But now she has received a biometric residency permit, confirming her settled status in the UK and bringing her a step nearer to gaining British citizenship.
She said: ‘I’ve never done anything wrong; how could I be an illegal?
‘It would be nice to get an apology from the government saying: we are sorry we put you though this.’
Paulette will now have to complete a naturalisation process to become a British citizen.
Her worried daughter Natalie Barnes says her mum is still traumatised by her experience.
She added: ‘The experience of being in the detention centre won’t ever leave her.’