Windrush victim wins right to unite her family – High Court rules Home Office acted ‘unlawfully’

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Demonstrators in Brixton supporting the Windrush generation

THE HIGH COURT ruled yesterday that the Home Office unlawfully prevented the family of Trinidadian national Lynda Mahabir, who came to the UK aged two months in 1969, from joining her in UK.

Her father took her back to Trinidad eight years later, in 1977.

The court heard that the Home Office failed to document her lawful immigration status and as a result, she was unable to return to the UK for 41 years – until she was granted leave to remain under the Windrush scheme in 2018.

However, the department refused to consider the applications of her husband and five children, two of whom are under 18, under the Windrush scheme, saying they had to pay the application fees, which would have amounted to over £20,000 – a sum they could not afford.

In a landmark ruling yesterday, Mr Tim Smith ruled that Lynda Mahabir was faced with ‘a thankless choice’ of either having to forego her rights under the Windrush scheme or breaking up the family – which he said constituted a ‘colossal interference’ with her right to family life.

The judge continued: ‘I am persuaded that the failure of the Home Office to afford family members of a Windrush victim preferential treatment in the charging of fees, over and above other classes of applicant, is indirectly discriminatory against them and is unlawful.’

Jeremy Bloom, from Duncan Lewis Solicitors, who represents the claimants, said: ‘This is a fantastic outcome for the Mahabir family and for all those who are unable to come to the UK to join members of the Windrush generation simply because the Home Office refuses to waive their exorbitant application fees.

‘The judgment makes it clear that the Home Office talks a good talk on Windrush but in reality the scheme is riddled with limitations and fails to properly consider the human rights of those it aims to help.

‘A genuine commitment to righting the historic wrongs committed would not have to be enforced by court judgment in this way.’