THE MOTHER and sister of Dexter Bristol (57), who died suddenly earlier this year after being classified as an illegal immigrant, angrily walked out of his inquest yesterday after the coroner ruled that the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ Windrush policy played no role in his death.
Dexter, who had come to the UK from Grenada aged eight, collapsed and died from acute heart failure in the street outside his home in Camden on 31 March. St Pancras Coroner’s Court in central London heard that Dexter had been sacked from his cleaning job and then denied benefits because officials claimed he was not in the country legally.
Coroner Dr William Dolman ruled yesterday that the Home Office should not be required to attend as an interested party in the inquest, since its policy was not relevant to the circumstances of Dexter’s death. Dolman admitted that it was ‘absolutely clear’ that Dexter was under ‘some sort of distress or pressure’ but claimed this did not come solely from his immigration status.
Irene Nembhard, the family’s lawyer, said they are now seeking an urgent judicial review of the ruling. She added: ‘(The family) withdrew after the coroner made two rulings this morning; declining to treat the Home Office as an interested person and declining to seek disclosure from the Home Office of any documents in their possession relating to Mr Bristol.’
During the inquest, Dolman had a heated exchange with the lawyer of the family, who tried to make submissions to the court about the role Home Office policy might have played, accusing her of ‘trying to tell me how to run my court’ and repeatedly ordering her to sit down.
Records show Dexter carried out a job search for hotel cleaning jobs or porter roles in 2016 with Maximus, a company working on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to help people find work, but he didn’t have his Right To Work document.
Speaking to journalists outside the court, Dexter’s mother Sentina Bristol said: ‘I’m under a lot of stress, this has been going on for the past two years and it’s all to do with immigration, what sort of status in this country, it’s a lot of stress.’
Asked: ‘When the coroner said that the Home Office he feels played no significant role on your son’s death and his stress levels, how did that make you feel?,’ Sentina replied: ‘Very, very bad and disappointed.’