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Windrush Day 2022 – supporting access to justice

This Windrush Day 2022, Charles Russell Speechlys is proud to continue supporting survivors of the Windrush scandal in their fight for justice. Over the past year, we have collaborated on a pro bono basis with law firms, barristers, frontline legal charities and survivor advocates in a range of ways - from helping a Windrush survivor seeking to challenge the entire Windrush Compensation Scheme, to providing ongoing assistance to individuals applying for compensation for the hardships and discrimination they unlawfully suffered.

In April 2021, we joined forces with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and seven other leading law firms (Taylor Wessing, Latham & Watkins, Dechert, Linklaters, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Debevoise and White & Case) to set-up the Windrush Legal Initiative to provide legal advice and support for people to apply to the Windrush Compensation Scheme. In January 2022, the Windrush Legal Initiative transferred from JCWI to the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU). Over the last year, the initiative has assisted 29 people with their compensation claims.

Over the coming year, the initiative aims to support more Windrush survivors. Speaking on the initiative, Nicola Burgess, Supervising Solicitor at GMIAU, outlined: "The initiative provides vital access to justice for those who have experienced decades of disbelief. An inability to prove lawful status denies a person their rights and prevents access to key services we take for granted. The human impact of this is immeasurable. Many survivors we work with have lost employment, been detained, threatened with deportation, made homeless, experienced the breakdown of relationships and have been unable to visit loved ones. Working with our teams of lawyers they at last feel supported and listened to.

We are also proud to work with Windrush survivor and advocate, Anthony Brown. Anthony is someone who knows all too well the negative impact of the Windrush scandal when, after moving to the UK in 1967 aged six, he was told following his university application in 1982 that he was in the UK illegally and threatened with deportation. Campaigning against this and succeeding, he has since dedicated his time to fighting this injustice and supporting others, co-founding the Windrush Defenders as part of his ongoing plight to find justice for the victims affected.

Led by John Almeida and Max Davis in our Public and Administrative Law Disputes team, and working alongside barrister Rowan Pennington-Benton of 3 Hare Court, we represented Anthony at a recent oral permission hearing for his Judicial Review application challenging the UK Government’s response to the Windrush Scandal and arguing it is not fit for purpose. While we were not ultimately successful in persuading the Judge to grant permission, we were proud to support Anthony in his continuing fight to seek meaningful change for the victims affected by this scandal. Commenting on the support received, Anthony outlined “The Windrush Scandal is the greatest failure of the state in its primary duty to protect its citizens from harm. As Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, the Windrush Generation answered the call by the Government to help rebuild the country, build the NHS and work in many other industries. The harm was to strip them of their Citizenship and subject them to immigration law giving them indefinite leave to remain but no documents. It was great to have the pro bono support of CRS, who worked with me to apply for permission for a Judicial Review of the Windrush Scheme and the Windrush Compensation Scheme, which I identified were failing to right the wrongs done to the Windrush Generation and to me when I was stripped of my citizenship and threatened with deportation.

Survivors of the Windrush generation can contact Nicola Burgess at GMIAU to access further information and for legal support. If you are interested in hearing more on our Pro Bono Practice, please contact Sarah Farrelly.

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