A day after apologising for "horrendous" mistakes, UK ministers now give conflicting details about deported British residents
There are no known cases of 'Windrush generation' British residents being deported due to their lack of documentation, according to Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington.
On Monday, Britain issued an unprecedented apology to thousands of UK residents who have been denied basic rights after being falsely identified as illegal immigrants, despite living and paying taxes in the country for decades. It follows revelations that immigrants from the 'Windrush' generation have become victims of recent efforts to tighten the immigration system.
"We have no information where somebody has been deported who is in this category, Lidington told BBC radio, but added officials were checking records to make sure nothing had "gone appallingly wrong in that way."
It comes after Home Secretary Amber Rudd issued an unprecedented apology on Monday saying, "Frankly, some of the way they have been treated has been wrong, has been appalling, and I am sorry."
It remains unclear, however, the number who have been told they need evidence including passports to continue working or getting health treatment in Britain. Some arrived on their parents' documentation and never formally applied for British citizenship or a passport.
Rudd announced the establishment of a new "dedicated team" that will help people prove their right to be in Britain and access services.
"The team will be tasked with helping these applicants demonstrate they are entitled to live in the UK, and will be tasked with resolving cases within two weeks of the evidence being provided," said Rudd.
But David Lammy, opposition Labour MP for Tottenham said the government's behaviour over the issue had been unacceptable. In reply to the Home Secretary he said: "Can she tell the House how many have been denied health under the National Health Service? How many have been denied pensions? How many have lost their jobs? This is a day of national shame and it has come about because of a hostile environment policy that was begun under her prime minister. Let us call it as it is."
Before Rudd's announcement, the immigration minister Caroline Nokes said that people appeared to have been wrongly deported for not having the right documents.
The “Windrush generation” refers to the ship that brought workers from the Caribbean to the UK in 1948. Many were given indefinite leave to remain but records were not kept. Often they did not formally apply for British citizenship or a passport.
Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday apologised to representatives from Caribbean counties for the anxiety caused to those affected.
The leaders are in London for a summit of Commonwealth heads of government.
As May was interior minister in 2012 when rule changes were introduced, the row has threatened to overshadow the summit, a crucial gathering for Britain as it seeks to increase trade with its former colonies after it leaves the European Union next year.
More than 140 members of parliament have signed a letter calling on May to resolve an anomaly in immigration rules, affecting many people who came to Britain as children between 1948 and 1971.
An online petition calling on the government to allow the "Windrush generation" to stay had gathered more than 85,000 signatures by Monday afternoon.
According to Britain's National Archives, almost half a million people left their homes in the West Indies to live in Britain between 1948 and 1970 when Commonwealth citizens were invited to fill labour shortages and help rebuild the UK economy after World War Two.