Documentary evidence May’s 2009 Windrush landing-card claim was false

Early this afternoon, Theresa May lied to the UK people when she told MPs that a decision to destroy landing cards – which could have provided vital proof of the right to live in this country for thousands of ‘Windrush generation’ immigrants – was taken in 2009 by a Labour government and not by her.

But documentary evidence has emerged establishing beyond reasonable doubt that the decision was made in 2010, when May was Home Secretary.

Yesterday evening, before May had even uttered the lie, ITV political editor Robert Peston tweeted snapshots of Home Office documents issued to justify the decision to destroy the documents. Peston was making another point – but he inadvertently exposed May’s lie in advance:

peston windrush.png

One of the screengrabs shows clearly when the decision was made:

peston ho justif

The government and its media allies are trying to explain away the problem by claiming that an ‘operational’ decision by the Border Agency was made in 2010 but the original decision was made in 2009, but a Home Office whistleblower told the Guardian – again, before May’s denial – that the Home Office itself made the 2010 decision – and was warned by staff about the problems it would cause for the Windrush generation.

Yet it proceeded anyway, as the Guardian related:

A former Home Office employee said the records, stored in the basement of a government tower block, were a vital resource for case workers when they were asked to find information about someone’s arrival date in the UK from the West Indies – usually when the individual was struggling to resolve immigration status problems…

The former employee (who has asked for his name not to be printed) said it was decided in 2010 to destroy the disembarkation cards, which dated back to the 1950s and 60s, when the Home Office’s Whitgift Centre in Croydon was closed and the staff were moved to another site. Employees in his department told their managers it was a bad idea, because these papers were often the last remaining record of a person’s arrival date, in the event of uncertainty or lost documents. The files were destroyed in October that year, when Theresa May was home secretary.

Theresa May’s exact claim in the Commons this afternoon was:

The decision to destroy the landing cards was taken in 2009 under a Labour government.

In fact, as the evidence shows, the specific decision to destroy the landing cards was taken in 2010 under a Tory government.


It used to be the case that any government minister caught lying to the public resigned immediately. Boris Johnson lied last month about the proof for the source of the Salisbury toxin and simply vanished from sight while the BBC covered for him.

The BBC is now covering for Theresa May. Her lie is still being propagated by the Corporation, even as other ‘MSM’ allies of the Tories try to explain it away.

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  1. I’ve no doubt that the EU’S Brexit negotiators are closely watching this fiasco unwind and re-evaluating how much they can trust the UK. They have every right to be concerned about the long-term immigration rights of their citizens who currently resident in the UK.

  2. There must be records at the HO to prove the case either way. There must be other employees or managers who know the truth.
    Bambi Rudd clearly has maximum access while Jeremy Corbyn’s, I imagine, is limited to what she allows.

    So far neither May or Rudd have offered any documentary evidence of which I’m aware, or put up any civil servant to support their case.

    I hope Jacqui Smith and Alan Johnson will soon speak to this since one or the other is apparently being accused of taking this hugely damaging decision.

  3. Skwakbox called BBC a liar based on tweet of a “reliable journalist” one minute after May’s statement about when the destruction of the boarding cards was authorised

    Per Beth Rigby “Have the clarification: in June 2009 business case approved by UKBA to dispose of paper records
    Dec 2009 the work started
    Second half 2010 the operational decision to destroy paper slips enacted. (enacting prog of work agreed in 2009). All of it UKBA decisions NOT ministerial”

    I think the “reliable journalist” was premature in her tweet and Skawkbox was premature in its outage about BBC lies. I don’t necessarily believe the above clarification but at least more investigation has occurred. I tend to believe no politician/journalist until there appears to be reasonable evidence for claims they make. Too many people rush to judgement based on tweets or other flimsy evidence and if that tweet supports their political outlook/agenda they believe it without further interrogation.

  4. No mention of whether digital copies were discussed, let alone ordered but does ‘dispose of paper records’ and ‘decision to destroy “paper slips” enacted’ not at least suggest digital copies were meant to be made?
    If not why not just say, ‘decision to destroy records?’

  5. Thatcher didn’t resign when it was proved she lied to the house of commons when the young secretary went to prison for leaking the proof. The decision to imprison her was made in the same week that the spy Antony Blunt (who worked for the Queen) was given a complete discharge from his life’s work of treason!!

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