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Shropshire-raised Windrush grandmother tells MPs of deportation fears

By David Cosgrove | Wellington | News | Published:

Shropshire-raised Windrush grandmother Paulette Wilson told MPs she feared she was being 'sent to die' when threatened with deportation.

Paulette Wilson and her daughter Natalie Barnes

Mrs Wilson, 61, who was brought up in Wellington after she moved to the country aged 10, in 1968, was locked up in an immigration centre for a week and almost deported to Jamaica despite having lived in the UK for 50 years.

She has appeared in front of MPs during an emotional session of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Mrs Wilson, who now lives in Wolverhampton, said that without the efforts of her daughter Natalie Barnes 'I would be in Jamaica, all alone – I did not know anybody over there so it was like 'are they sending me to die'?

The Home Office has faced accusations race played a part in the treatment of the Windrush generation as victims of the scandal told of their experience.

Committee chairwoman Harriet Harman said she would write to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to get the Home Office to give Mrs Wilson her official files so she could see the information officials had about them.

Ms Harman told her and fellow Windrush Anthony Bryan, who also appeared in front of the committee, 'it really should not have happened' and 'it has been very heartrending hearing what you have experienced and how frightening and shocking that must have been for you'.

Ministers have faced a furious backlash over the treatment of the Windrush generation, named after the ship that brought migrants to Britain from the Caribbean in 1948.

Commonwealth citizens who had arrived before 1973 were automatically granted indefinite leave to remain under the 1971 Immigration Act.

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While many of those who arrived have taken British citizenship or have official documents confirming their status, others have struggled to produce paperwork demonstrating they are lawfully resident.

Mr Bryan, who feared he would be deported to Jamaica despite living in the UK since arriving as a child in 1965, told the parliamentary committee he did not think his case would have been handled in the same way if he was originally from Canada or Australia.

Asked if he thought race was a factor he said: "In the Home Office? Yes."

Labour peer Baroness Lawrence asked him what he thought his treatment would have been different if he had been from Canada, New Zealand or Australia.

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He said: "I hate to say it, but I don't think I would have this problem."

Mrs Wilson was told in January that she could stay in the UK. She had been branded an illegal immigrant in 2015 and spent a week detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre last October.

The Home Office said she was granted indefinite leave to remain once she ‘made the correct application and provided evidence of her residency in the UK’.

And Mrs Wilson's plight sparked an apology from Prime Minister Theresa May when she visited the city last month.

The Prime Minister said: “Of course I am sorry to Paulette for what has happened, as I’m sorry to anybody from the Windrush generation who has had a bad experience, or who is anxious because of what has happened.”

David Cosgrove

By David Cosgrove
Chief Reporter - @davidcosgrove_

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