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Thursday, 13 September 2018

Call for immediate publication of Windrush Report amid warnings officials 'closing ranks'

Written by Jemma Crew

Full disclosure has been called for over the conduct of officials during the Windrush scandal, amid warnings against the civil service "closing ranks to protect its own".

Tory peer Baroness Finn of Swansea, a former special adviser in David Cameron's government, said the report by Sir Alex Allan of advice given to ministers should be published "without further delay" pointing out it is "always cover-up that causes the most harm".

Amber Rudd (pictured) was forced to resign as home secretary after "inadvertently" misleading MPs about targets for the removal of illegal migrants.

However, Labour peer and former Navy chief Lord West of Spithead came to the defence of the Whitehall mandarins, saying he did "not believe for a second that this disaster can be put at the door of civil servants".

Responding to a question from Lady Quinn in the House of Lords, Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford said the review carried out by Sir Alex was an internal one.

"The Home Secretary is considering whether a redacted version of the report can be published," she said.

Following this up, Lady Finn said: "Does she agree that justice for those damaged by the Windrush scandal, as well as the urgent need to restore public trust in the Home Office, require that Sir Alex Allan's report be published without further delay?

"It is always cover-up that causes the most harm, and full disclosure is now required.

"Amber Rudd resigned as a result of what took place. If there is any sense that the civil service is closing ranks to protect its own, there could be a serious loss of public confidence."

Lady Williams repeated comments made by the Prime Minister in which she said the Government was committed to publication, but the form of that was "currently being considered".

But Lord West said: "I do not believe for a second that this disaster can be put at the door of civil servants. It lies elsewhere.

"Generally, civil servants perform in an admirable and loyal way and do as they are told by their political masters."

Lady Williams stressed the "disaster of Windrush" was a separate issue and that Sir Alex's review related to the the advice given to the former home secretary around the time she appeared before the Home Affairs committee.

Ms Rudd had told MPs there were no removal targets, but following a string of disclosures to the contrary, she announced her resignation.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.