LibLink: Ed Davey: New Data Law could lead to more Windrush scandals

There’s a nasty little clause in the Data Protection Bill soon to be finalised by Parliament which means that the Home Office is under no obligation to tell people why they’ve made their decisions.

The Home Office has a fairly consistent record of showing that it needs much more accountability rather than less.

In an article for Politics Home, Ed Davey sets out the issues:

This “immigration exemption” clause would allow the Home Office to cover up its mistakes – indeed, not even find out when it had made a mistake. Because the applicant to the Home Office – or more likely their lawyer – wouldn’t be able to get access to their file, the very information used to make a decision on their future.

So, if the Home Office acts incorrectly, as they have done with Windrush documents, an individual wouldn’t be able to challenge the decision – because they won’t be allowed to know the reasons why they are being thrown out of the country. By using the new law to block the “Subject Access Requests” lawyers use to check the Home Office has got the right information on their client – and even the right person – the Home Office will become party to huge injustices. This could lead to hundreds of deportations of people who have the right to be here – people who are British citizens.

MPs who work week in, week out, know the sheer scale of the mistakes the Home Office make, every day. Latest figures from the Law Society revealed how the Home Office lose 50% of cases on appeal. And specialist lawyers have provided MPs with plenty of examples of gross Home Office errors, where the Home Office gets the wrong identity, reads their own files incorrectly and doesn’t even acknowledge the decisions it previously made about an individual.

Ironically, this law may even prove an obstacle for the Brexit negotiations – as it effectively breaks the agreement on the rights of EU Citizens reached last December. For by reducing the rights of EU citizens applying to the Home Office, it breaches EU law on privacy and individual rights. Indeed, it would directly breach the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, undermining article 8 on the protection of personal data, article 20 on equality before the law and article 21 on non-discrimination. That’s why Liberal Democrats, amongst others, are bringing this new draconian Conservative plan to the notice of Brexit negotiators.

You can read the whole article here.

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3 Comments

  • William Fowler 25th Apr '18 - 2:58pm

    Yes, as I said before, Brexit means people are going to lose all sorts of rights and redress whilst the State will have more power – currently you can threaten govn and big companies with one of the EU institutions which is remarkably effective in my experience. A new Labour govn will be able to rape and pillage mildly well off individuals whilst (big State) Conservatives will just buttress everything with impenetrable bureaucracy and circular trips through various depts until you end up back where you started.

  • This confirms what we have known for a long time. The Conservatives have no concept of due process and just do what they like, making it up as they go along. This amongst other reasons is why we need a written Constitution that will help to prevent such power grabs.

  • suzanne Fletcher 26th Apr '18 - 2:47pm

    Also encourage people to sign the petition here, and spread the message around those likely to be affected https://www.libdems.org.uk/coverup?utm_campaign=windrush_1b&utm_medium=email&utm_source=libdems

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