A Windrush victim who paid more than £3,000 to stay in the UK has revealed he has not received a penny in compensation awarded in a government inquiry.
Paul Cudjoe, 64, originally from Grenada, arrived in the UK in the ’60s as a child of 11.
He had lived in Dundee for 40 years when he was suddenly asked by the UK Government to prove that he had the right to stay here.
It happened when he and his wife Frances went on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
As they were returning home, dad-of-two Paul was refused entry back to the UK.
The former demolition worker revealed that it cost him more than £3,000 in legal fees to fight for the right to stay in the UK and avoid being torn from his family.
Paul is one of a generation of Windrush workers who were told – wrongly – that they were in the UK illegally.
The Home Office last year announced a compensation scheme for Windrush victims, to which Paul has applied, hoping to get both his legal costs back and money for the trauma his family suffered.
Paul said: “I spent a good amount of a redundancy payment from my job on legal fees to stay here.
“If the situation had been the other way round, and I owed the Government money, I would be asked to pay it with interest.
“I worked hard all my life, paid taxes, brought up two children, and did everything to be a good citizen. Then suddenly, I was asked to fight for the right to stay with my family.
“My wife Frances and I were distraught about being torn apart and I couldn’t imagine being exiled thousands of miles from my children.
“We are only asking for compensation that is fair.”
Paul’s wife, Frances, a hospital receptionist, said: “We have lived through a heartbreaking time. The children and I were extremely distressed that Paul could be sent back to Grenada.
“He struggled to get a job because as soon as employers found out he was fighting to stay in the country, they didn’t want to know. Any savings we had went on lawyers’ bills.
“We would like compensation for those costs and the awful distress we have gone through.”
The author of a report into the Windrush scandal warned last Monday that there was a “grave risk” of similar failures happening again if the UK Government did not implement its recommendations.
Wendy Williams told BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour that the Home Office must “make good on its commitment to learn the lessons”.
But last month, the Home Office revealed its Windrush Compensation Scheme, which was announced in April 2019 and was estimated to pay out between £200 million and £500m, had only provided compensation to 60 victims of the government’s actions.
In the Commons on Tuesday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said internal figures showed that more than £1m has been offered to applicants of the scheme, and that once the offers were accepted by the applicants, payments would be made.
The Home Secretary said that she would refuse to apologise for the delay despite it being far too slow. She added that every case was being treated individually and that the process took time.
Tragically, some Windrush victims were unable to fight to stay in the UK and were deported. At least 11 have died in enforced exile from their families.
Paul Cudjoe was denied entry back into the UK eight years ago and fought for the right to stay until it was eventually granted in documentation in 2017.
Paul’s MP, Stuart Hosie, said: “I raised Paul’s case in the House of Commons two years ago. At the very least compensation should be paid for the expense Paul has had to meet. It’s a disgrace that after all these years he should still be out of pocket.
“I will raise this issue of this family’s compensation in the House of Commons again.”
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