A member of the Windrush generation who was wrongly denied entry to the UK and sent to Jamaica has been granted a judicial review of his case.
He is set to challenge the Home Office’s decision to refuse him compensation under the Windrush Compensation Scheme, The Independent has learned.
Raymond Lee, 67, first came to the UK as a child in 1971 where he lived for nearly 30 years. But he was wrongly denied re-entry at Heathrow airport when he returned from a visit to Jamaica in July 1999.
Tearing him away from his then-wife and family in in the UK, Mr Lee was detained at the airport, removed and forced to stay in Jamaica.
Though he later returned to the UK months later, the retired builder is seeking compensation for the impact that this had on his life.
Speaking to The Independent from his home in Clarendon, Jamaica, Mr Lee says: “I feel disgusted by how I’ve been treated by the British government.
“Looking at my experience and others’, as highlighted in the Windrush scandal, it’s clear that things have gone right back to the Enoch Powell days.
“My generation and people like my parents left the Caribbean and came to England to bring the country out of the gutter after World War II; as soon as that was done, they were turned against, used, abused and discarded by the British government as people who were not needed. It’s not nice; I feel screwed by England and rejected.”
Having eventually returned to the UK in 2000, Mr Lee was subsequently granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
In 2009, he returned to Jamaica when his father became ill and died. Since then, he has not returned to the UK, initially because he was afraid that he would be detained. In 2018, he was granted a 10-year visit visa through the Windrush Scheme, but he has been unable to afford the airfare to travel to the UK.
When Mr Lee was prevented from re-entering the UK in 1999, he was travelling on a Jamaican passport, as he had done previously without any issues, when he was refused entry and eventually removed.
Under immigration rules at the time, Jamaican citizens did not need a visa to enter the UK and Mr Lee believed that he was entitled to readmission, having first come to the UK in 1971 as a child.
However, because Mr Lee was travelling for the first time on a new passport, immigration officials refused to allow him re-entry, because he did not have any documents with him to show that he had lawful status.
This was despite his Jamaican passport having been issued in London the previous month. He also provided a UK address where he was going to live.
There is no evidence immigration officers made any inquiries as to whether he had ILR status when he was last in the UK or to check this address before deciding to refuse entry, detaining and then removing him to Jamaica.
“The fact that I came to England as a child didn’t make a difference to immigration; they didn’t care about the fact that I went to school here, got married here, worked here and had all of my children,” the father of five tells The Independent.
“Whilst I am pleased the High Court will review the compensation decision, it is a pity that I have had to go to these lengths just to get the fair treatment I deserve.”
Mr Lee settled in New Cross, south London, aged 15, and attended Pepys school before embarking on an electrical apprenticeship and going on to work within the building trade.
In 2021, he applied to the Windrush Compensation Scheme seeking compensation for his detention and removal from the UK, loss of access to employment and the impact on his life caused by the failure to admit him to the UK in 1999.
The Home Office rejected his claim on the assessment that his ILR had previously lapsed because he had been out of the country for two years before 1999.
However, Mr Lee’s lawyers argue that he did not need indefinite leave to remain as a citizen of a Commonwealth country and that he had the right of readmission to the UK as a returning resident.
Solicitor Stephanie Hill of Leigh Day says: “Like so many members of the Windrush Generation, my client has experienced ill-treatment from the Home Office for many years. Firstly, he was denied entry to the UK and sent to Jamaica, despite having first arrived in the UK as a child in the 1970s.
“To compound this unfairness, he has since been denied compensation for the impact this had on his life. Our client will argue that the Home Office has failed to apply its own immigration law correctly and has taken an unreasonable approach to the evidence in this case.
“Our client is pleased to have been granted permission for a Judicial Review in the High Court.”
On his reasons for speaking out, Mr Lee explains: “When I felt like giving up on my case and read articles about other people’s cases, that were similar to mine, it gave me courage that I could get justice.
“There are times when I felt like giving up on this fight but I’m hoping that if at least one person reads my story and also feels encouraged to pursue their compensation, then it will be worth telling it.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government remains absolutely committed to righting the wrongs of the Windrush scandal and making sure those affected receive the compensation they rightly deserve.
“It is longstanding government policy that we do not routinely comment on individual cases.”