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Windrush: Refuse to give Home Office data on individuals, Greens tell council

Call for policy of disobedience amid Windrush scandal revelations

01 May, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Michael Braithwaite lost his job at Gospel Oak School in the crackdown

THE Greens have called for disobedience at the Town Hall when immigration hunters from the Home Office demand information on individuals.

They have written a non-cooperation policy into their local manifesto ahead of Thursday’s council elections, and amid the ongoing revelations behind the Windrush scandal which has engulfed the government.

Other political parties warned today (Tuesday) that the suggestion to withhold information was illegal.

A Home Office crackdown led to problems for hundreds of long-term residents who came to the United Kingdom when their parents were encouraged to move from the Caribbean to fill gaps in the labour workforce in the decades after the war.

This included Michael Braithwaite, 66, a teaching assistant at Gospel Oak Primary School who was fired for not having the right paperwork. Others have been denied access to healthcare or been told they could face being deported.

Green Party councillor Sian Berry said: “The Labour council should resist handing over data. What we are talking about is a genuinely horrible policy that it crosses the line. We can’t just brush things under the carpet. You can have a humane debate on immigration without inhumane racist profiling which takes away people’s basic human rights. If resisting fails, then don’t collect the data. You can’t supply it, if you haven’t got it.”

She referenced how some parents had rebelled against a nationwide school census ordered by the government in December which required information on whether children were foreign nationals. “There was a campaign then to just fill in ‘Planet Earth’ on the forms,” said Cllr Berry. “In the case of Gospel Oak School, Labour were very quiet for two years. This scandal could’ve been raised then.”

Home Secretary Amber Rudd resigned on Sunday evening and has been replaced by Sajid Javid as more cases have emerged and a row over immigration targets has gone on, but a link has been drawn to the so-called “hostile environment” advocated by Theresa May during her time at the Home Office.

Labour council leader Councillor Georgia Gould said the Greens manifesto pledge was unworkable. “The proposal would be unlawful and I can’t ask officers to break the law. I do not want homeless support or other services for those in need being used to meet destructive Home Office targets and if I find that happening I will campaign for a national change in policy.”

She added: “The government have been trying to create a hostile and pernicious culture for illegal immigrants which has spiralled out of control. and is impacting on community cohesion in Camden.”

Councillor Gio Spinella, the leader of the Conservatives, said: “I can sympathise with the desire to counter any ‘hostile environment’, but breaking the law is not in any way the answer. Obviously we are all mindful of privacy in this day and age. But there are alternative steps that can be taken to reassure the general public the UK will not be a ‘hostile environment’. Breaking the law is not one of them. This sounds more like a stunt than an achievable council policy.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Luisa Porritt said: “We are a pro-immigration party and we want to defend and maintain an open, welcoming environment, but we cannot support law breaking. It is a criminal offence not to share data. In Government, the Liberal Democrats resisted requiring schools, GPs and landlords to act as immigration officials.”

She added: “Elected councillors would ask council lawyers for immediate advice on requirements of the council. Ultimately, it is for individuals to decide whether they are willing to break the law of the land – it is not something that a political party should be requiring of its members.”

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