back to article Windrush immigration papers scandal is a big fat GDPR fail for UK.gov

It's probably a given that – with the European Union's GDPR now weeks away – you're sick to the back teeth of hearing, reading and talking about data protection. And then comes the Windrush scandal in which the UK government apparently destroyed the landing records for thousands of citizens from Caribbean nations who arrived …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Data protection legislation is genuinely a Good ThingTM. But many people use data protection as an excuse for not doing something. Most of the time, when someone says "I can't do that because of data protection" they're usually lying as they haven't the faintest clue about data protection and are just using it as an excuse to hide their laziness or incompetence.

    1. H in The Hague Silver badge
      Pint

      "... as they haven't the faintest clue about data protection and are just using it as an excuse to hide their laziness or incompetence."

      Hear, hear - deserves a beer. Ditto when they claim "Can't do that because of Health and Safety." or "Can't do that because of the EU." Always does bad things to my blood pressure, though I do sort of enjoy challenging folk who come up with excuses like that.

      Informative article, thanks.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        And

        'Must expel these people because the home office say so'

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Ditto when they claim "Can't do that because of Health and Safety."

        The HSE got so pissed of with this shitty excuse and being blamed (looking at you Daily Mail / Sun readers), they even retaliated with their own mythbusters site.

        http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/index.htm

      3. James 139

        "Can't do because..." is a generic cop out for "We wanted to use our reason, but it made us sound foolish or stupid"

        Logically, those using it can present evidence as to why it is a H&S, EU or DP requirement, but I'd bet none of them ever can.

      4. Not That Andrew

        More than me jobs worth, mate!

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Given the British citizenship and UK residency rules that we have (why make something easy when you can make it pointlessly complicated?), it seems we'd need to hold information back up to grandparents. So those Windrush landing cards needed to be held for maybe 120-150 years.

      Alternatively, the Home Office could get with the times come up with a system that means you don't need to keep years of paperwork up to your grandparents. Everyone would ask for residency on arrival, everyone would register with the council every time they move house, and everyone would be able to prove continuous residency five years later by granting the Home Office permission to look at residency/tax/NI histrory. Same for citizenship five years after that.

      It seems to me they were aiming to go in that direction, but 1) didn't want to regularise because that would "send the wrong signal" but is essential when switching from the system we have now to a system like this, and 2) did it on the cheap by using the public as immigration officers, instead of just asking them to say "show me this card or certificate, if you haven't got one, get one from this place" right at the start, and 3) didn't give a toss about how many people's lives they screwed up as we can see by the fact that their hostile environment catches everyone who came before 1973 if their country wasn't independent.

      Also Mayhem will probably use the opportunity to push for ID cards for everyone saying it can't be done without it, but countries like the Netherlands manage to operate a more coherent immigration system and have optional ID cards.

      1. Noonoot

        So those Windrush landing cards needed to be held for maybe 120-150 years.

        Totally agree. And if their answer is that so much paper occupies so much space, DIGITALISE!!!!! UK pays enough civil servants to scan every single document that they process.

        1. Alister Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: So those Windrush landing cards needed to be held for maybe 120-150 years.

          DIGITALISE

          Or, possibly, digitise / ze.

          No need to invent new words.

          1. John Sturdy

            Re: So those Windrush landing cards needed to be held for maybe 120-150 years.

            It isn't a new word; it means to administer digitalis / digoxin to someone (a heart drug derived from the foxglove plant). Admittedly I was a little puzzled to see it in this context.

            1. eldakka Silver badge

              Re: So those Windrush landing cards needed to be held for maybe 120-150 years.

              > It isn't a new word; it means to administer digitalis / digoxin to someone

              Thanks for that, as I was actually thinking it was a verb to do with fingers, e.g.

              "I am going to digitalise that apple pie"

          2. Lusty Silver badge

            Re: So those Windrush landing cards needed to be held for maybe 120-150 years.

            Sorry Alister, you may not like it but digitalise now is a word and has a different meaning to digitise. Digitise is things like scanning where we take assets and make them digital. Digitalisation is where we transform business processes to be digital first such that the paper never exists in the first place.

            It is, as all words, made up. It has been around for a long time now though and is part of the language.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: So those Windrush landing cards needed to be held for maybe 120-150 years.

          If the argument can be made that there is a legitimate reason for holding the data for more than a person's lifespan (IIRC the oldest person on record died at 124), then there is also no justification for getting rid of that data under GDPR - it is only considered to be Personally Identifying Information if it pertains to a 'Natural Living Person' - i.e. someone who is an actual person (not a legal entity of some sort), and is alive.

          Logically, if you have to retain it while they're alive, under GDPR you don't have to get rid of it after they're dead, because it ceases to be PID on that date.

      2. simmo

        Re: Windrush immigration papers scandal is a big fat GDPR fail for UK.gov

        Agree with your comment, apart from the final three words. The Netherlands has "identiteitsplicht", an ID requirement. Basically everyone over 14 must at all times be able to show proof of identity and (depending on the circumstances) residence if requested by a policeman and certain other officials. Most Dutch citizens carry their credit card sized ID cards for this purpose. The cards are optional, and certainly more convenient than the alternative of carrying a passport. Non-Dutch EU-issued drivers licences may sometimes be treated as proof of identity but not residence.

        When I lived in the Netherlands, I broke the strict letter of the law by carrying a drivers licence but not my passport. I never got fined, but it was sometimes inconvenient. e.g. when I forgot the post office would only let me pick up parcels if I had my passport.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hilariously I was having this discussion while you were posting your comment... "can't look at the files of a person who's left because of data protection" not the case, and if it was what possible reason would there be for keeping them? (The full answer being, there may be some reasons to keep them and it can be looked at for those purposes with appropriate oversight.)

    4. phuzz Silver badge

      Or, to look at it from the other direction, next time your boss asks you to do something nonsensical, instead of arguing with them, just say "I think this is covered by GDPR, can you check for me please?".

      Then you can get back to reading elReg.

    5. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Laziness and incompetence and

      being in a job that doesnt give you time to find out what you need to confirm your current conspiracy theory.

      Unfortunately I know people who ask some of the most fucking inane FOI type requests. Entertaining down the pub but shouldn't be allowed near info.

    6. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      "I can't do that because of data protection"

      is a new entry in the BOFH excuse calendar, or soon will be

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Regardless of how, or what, you think of the Home Secretary at that time in 2010 (the British prime minister Theresa May herself), a minister or high-ranking civil servant overseeing the Windrush files should never have had to sign off on any data disposal. Good data administration policy should have been in place and meant it was part of a run-of-the-mill activity done once a month, or maybe once a quarter, without the need for upward reference."

    And who signs off on the policy in the first place?

    Each class of material needs its own policy. A sensible policy for these records would have been to treat them as being in the same class as BMD material and GRO are still storing everything in that category right back to the start of civil registration on the first of June 1837.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      None of the arrivals before about 1962 had papers any way - they came later. They weren't immigrants as such either. As residents in the British Empire, they had a right to settle in any other part of the Empire.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This is just another example of how the medieval system Britain still employs to track the status of its citizens and residents can't work in times when people move much more and easily.

        If those people had to register at their new place of residence, there would be no need to keep paper record themselves of their entry, or ask for a passport - there would be a record of when they established in the country and where. US has the same issues when it comes to voting, for example.

        Here when you establish somewhere you need to register as a "resident". It automatically endow you with specific rights - i.e. voting for correct constituency, attending local schools, obtaining a local physician for healthcare, etc. etc. Of course, it also means to know where you have to pay for local taxes.

        And any time you can request a certificate stating where you are resident and how long.

        I had relatives that were born in territories now no longer part of the country, and they never had issues to state they were actual citizens when they moved in after the war, even if the original records were destroyed long ago.

        Is this Big Brother? Nah, it's just keeping needed records clean - and allow people to exercise their rights.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "allow people to exercise their rights"

          One of the rights we've grown used to in the UK is not being challenged for our "papers".

          On a practical basis how does such a paper-based registration system get booted? I can present to someone registering me a birth certificate of someone who looks roughly the right age but how do I prove I'm the person named on it? Does every baby get micro-chipped at birth so that in 70-80 years we have completely documented population?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            " is not being challenged for our "papers"."

            We are not challenged to exhibit "our papers". The records were kept at the town level in the past, now they have been digitized and kept in a national database, because people move much more and more often than sixty years ago.

            Yet, if any need arose to show you were a legitimate resident, you could always ask to obtain of a legally valid paper to show it - any time. No need to store and search old paper records in your basement.

            Birth registration happens soon after birth - usually is made by the hospital directly for babies born there. Otherwise it can be done at a town office - you need to present a certificate made by the physician or obstetrician who helped the birth, plus a proof of your identity as a parent. No need of a chip, and here, identity thieves are almost non-existent.

            Windrush people had paper - paper emitted by a UK authority in the Caribbeans, right? - that has been destroyed - if those papers had been used to register them as UK residents, there would be no issue today.

            Like it or not, the State has lots of records about you already - you can ensure they are used to benefit you and assert your rights, or you can let it to do what it likes - including destroying them for ever-, against you, while being proud of not "being challenged for our papers".

            One of the punishment in a dictatorship is exactly being made a non-citizen - denying even the basic rights.

            1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              Re: " is not being challenged for our "papers"."

              "

              Birth registration happens soon after birth - usually is made by the hospital directly for babies born there. Otherwise it can be done at a town office - you need to present a certificate made by the physician or obstetrician who helped the birth, plus a proof of your identity as a parent. No need of a chip, and here, identity thieves are almost non-existent.

              "

              If you lose (or claim to have lost) your birth certificate, you will need to apply for a duplicate. The birth certificate contains no information that identifies who it was issued to. No fingerprints, no DNA, not even a photograph. I can get a "duplicate" birth certificate of just about anyone who is approximately the same age as myself, just by knowing their date of birth, and claiming to be that person. I can then use that birth certificate to apply for a driving licence and/or passport. While I believe that a check is now made to ensure that the birth certificate was not originally issued to someone who was later issued with a death certificate, you could still use the birth certificate of someone who you know does not already have a UK passport / driving licence.

              1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

                Re: " is not being challenged for our "papers"."

                @Cynic_999

                IIRC 'Watchdog' got a birth certificate, then a provisional driving license, using David Blunkett's d.o.b.

          2. Mike Richards Silver badge

            Channel 4 News did a panel session about Windrush earlier this week. One of the experts (sorry didn't get his name) said that this sort of thing could all be fixed if the government introduced ID cards. So don't be surprised if the Home Office attempts to recover from this fuck-up by reanimating the corpse of Blunkettcards and saying ID cards are needed to prevent further scandals - setting in motion a process that will create further fuck-ups.

            What made the panel so odd, was that I found myself agreeing with Jacob Rees Mogg on the unBritishness of ID cards. At that point I thought it was time for the first gin of the evening.

            1. MonkeyBob

              What made the panel so odd, was that I found myself agreeing with Jacob Rees Mogg on the unBritishness of ID cards. At that point I thought it was time for the first gin of the evening.

              I had this strange feeling too, was very unsettling.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              setting in motion a process that will create further fuck-ups.<P>

              Fuck-ups are an established British tradition. They will never be abolished so long as their is an England.<p>

              Cruel Britanniah!

            3. Wapiya
              Terminator

              ID cards

              ID cards are a smokescreen. They are not needed for the prevention of the problems.

              For example: In Germany you have to have an ID card, but not with you. And the ID card proves nothing. Not that you are born, or even that you are a German citizen, even though it does state your nationality.

              The only documents that really matter are the birth certificates (and these are only copies of the master registry) and/or your family register. The master documents stay with residency of the family. So you are still attached to your parents until you marry or have children. Makes fun getting marriage papers, if your parents did move often after you went your own ways. You are also required to register at the council hall of your main residency. Makes voting registers and some other things painless.

              And we just had the proof, that the ID card and the passport prove nothing at all. My son and I had to get new ones. Even though we could ID with passport and ID card from that same council hall (after 10 years the old ended) and the same public servant, we had to provide proof of family registry. In my sons case the birth certificate. I could use the marriage certificate to validate myself and my wife for a future new ID card. As my daughter had her birth first registered within the same administrative region, she was by definiton validated.

              At least now they have consolidated our family book after almost 20 years of marriage. Our master papers are now detached from out parents (with proper copies and documentation on the parent register) and form a new family book.

              So ID cards are not necessary, only a central registry even without cards.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Would not buy from this provider

                "Just keep the data for longer"? What sort of "solution" is that?

                As has been pointed out above, Germany manages just fine without keeping a central register (that being banned by the Basic Law), and in any case I would have liked a discussion of Article 2 § 2 (b) of the GDPR as it applies to this situation.

            4. Stork Bronze badge

              There is no reason to confuse residence registers with ideas cards. Denmark has the first but not the latter

          3. MonkeyCee Silver badge

            Papers please

            "One of the rights we've grown used to in the UK is not being challenged for our "papers". "

            Doesn't seem to be the case these days.

            There's a massive kneejerk reaction to ID cards, and perhaps to the police being able to force you to identify yourself (which they can in a quite a large variety of circumstances, just not at will) but you absolutely get asked for your ID by the UK cops.

            If you're a citizen who has never lived outside the country, then it's almost invisible, since mostly it's about proving your legal right to be here. But the people being hit by the Windrush scandal have had situations where they've been asked "papers please" and being unable to provide them, lost their jobs, rentals and access to healthcare.

            So no ID card, no papers from the Home Office until you can prove your residency (auto reject unless 100% complete), but you'll need those papers.

            Don't worry citizen. Your rights will always be protected.

            1. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: Papers please

              "but you absolutely get asked for your ID by the UK cops."

              And from a legal point of view, unless they are arresting you you can tell them to go whistle for it.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "On a practical basis how does such a paper-based registration system get booted?"

            When last Labour governement were attempting to set up ID cards then they were planning a nationwide set of offices (someone I know who works in business property had a job identifying suitable locations around Bristol) where everyone would need to report with the relevant birth certificates/passports/utility bills to get them onto the system so they could have an ID card issued

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "One of the rights we've grown used to in the UK is not being challenged for our "papers". "

            Takes a bit of cheek to post a comment like this to an article about people facing deportation because they have literally been challenged for papers, and those papers were shredded by the same government agency demanding them.

            The reality of life in the UK is that you are constantly challenged for papers in order to do anything from opening a bank account to renting a flat. Therefore you either need government-issued ID like a passport or else you are at the mercy of whatever the deranged bureaucrat feels like asking for.

            "On a practical basis how does such a paper-based registration system get booted?"

            Since several european countries have successfully operated such systems for decades it's clearly not impossible outside the constraints of Little England.

            "Does every baby get micro-chipped at birth so that in 70-80 years we have completely documented population?"

            And yet more drivel showing that you completely fail to grasp the distinction between recording someones details and proving their identity. Sadly this is absolutely typical of people raised in a country where the authorities are unable to achieve either task.

            1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
              Big Brother

              No simple solutions

              While an ID card system works very well in many countries, it is not a panacea against discrimination and injustice. Take a look at the Chinese Hukou (household registration) system, which divides rural and urban residents, enforced mass rural starvation during the Great Leap Forward, and provides impoverished migrant workers to make our smartphones today.

              Other examples risk invoking Godwin's Law.

        2. gnasher729 Silver badge

          You are completely missing the mark here.

          The actual problem is that the Home Office is supposed to find illegal immigrants, found the task too hard, and decided that instead it would be a lot easier to find _legal_ immigrants who have problems proving what rights they have. Emphasis on _legal_ immigrants. To the destruction of sailing information: Why assume incompetence, when malice is a perfectly fine explanation?

          And these _legal_ immigrants were never asked for any evidence, until more than 45 years later, when that evidence is impossible to get by. 9 years after the government destroyed important evidence - we should fall back to the normal civil court rules; if you destroy evidence then it should be assumed that the evidence was against you.

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Unhappy

        They weren't immigrants as such either. As residents in the British Empire, they had a right to settle in any other part of the Empire.

        Setting aside what any exact legal definition is: These people were British before they came here, were British when here, are British even as the Home Office detains them, deports them, denies them jobs, benefits, welfare and healthcare. That's what makes it so appalling.

        It is easy to see how it came about; "Illegal immigrants" are "those who shouldn't be here", which became "those without evidence of a right to be here", which meant many of the arrivals, unable to provide that evidence, were de facto "illegal immigrants".

        The "hostile environment" May created turned "innocent until proven guilty" into "guilty unless proven innocent" and changed "balance of probability" to needing to provide absolute proof of innocence.

        May, Rudd and the Home Office then merely concerned themselves with removing "Illegal immigrants", chased the targets they had promised, and cared little beyond that. It didn't matter who people were, only that they could be classed as "illegal immigrants". The Windrush generation without paperwork were easy targets, low-hanging fruit, "illegal immigrants" hiding in plain sight.

        Every little helps. They were just numbers to callous Home Secretaries and a ruthless Home Office.

        1. RancidRodent

          Well, you could argue they became British after Labour passed their 1948 nationalities act - for which there was no mandate - nor was it mentioned in their winning manifesto - every single poll on the matter since has shown a healthy lead for the "no immigration" side which has been derided and scoffed at from day one. The British people didn't want and still don't want mass immigration, but then listening to the people would mean democracy - and we can't have that now can we? Still, it's another fine excuse for bourgeois career politicians to self flagellate and virtue signal to their Guardian-reading pals - democracy is over-rated anyhow.

          1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

            @RancidRodent - "Well, you could argue they became British after Labour passed their 1948 nationalities act"

            But it would be a very weak argument - they became British when Britain annexed their territories as part of its Empire. British Subjects, to be exact. The 1948 act changed subjection to citizenship.

            Imperialism created this mess, and the prejudices of the imperial mindset live on.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Exactly.

        Those of us in the windrush situation, and there are plenty of Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders etc among us have been watching an increasingly hostile situation with concern for some time. In particular to prove my residency rights looked like being fairly serious money, hundreds at least, when actually there ought to be a data trail certainly of NI, and presumably of school records too going right back.

    2. Uberior

      Hasn't it already been disclosed that the sign-off for the destruction of the documents was undertaken in 2009?

      Which makes perfect sense as this kind of thing takes ages to sort out, and the plan was to leave the building in which the documents were stored in.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "the plan was to leave the building in which the documents were stored in."

        There are other parts of government with other buildings who store documents with similar significance. The GRO, part of the Passport Office and, in turn, also part of the Home Office would have been entirely appropriate. John Reid wasn't wrong.

      2. veti Silver badge

        Think back to 2009. Cameron was fighting a flanking action from the usual suspects in the Tory party, and UKIP was on the warpath. Immigration was a big issue. The Home Office was desperate to show it could get immigrant numbers down.

        Unfortunately, it didn't really have any legit options to do that. And so, instead, under intense pressure from several sides, May eventually finds a target she has some hope of hitting - by losing their paperwork.

        It was as slimy a move as I can remember seeing. But it was what happens when politicians are pressured into making promises they can't keep. Brexit and Windrush are two outcomes of the same crisis.

    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      There was a policy

      Everything I read in the Grauniad about this suggests that the policy was that the Landing Cards should have been passed onto the National Archives.

      So potentially what we have is a breach of policy either by ignorance or deliberately.

  3. TRT Silver badge

    Excellent article

    And it smacks to me of the hiding behind the law excuses which has seen an explosion of the " 'elfin safety innit, mate? " brigade.

    You know the sort... you have a simple question about something important, has someone done this, has someone said that, has such-and-such a person been in contact with you yet, have you informed such and such a person about this... and you always get one somewhere; one poxy ignoramus who will say "I'm sorry, I can't tell you that because of data protection". I've given YOU the name, you muppet... or I don't need to know the name, just to know if some event has occurred or some contact been made. As far as I'm aware a company as a legal entity, even if it's a sole trader, has no "personal" information status. Or do they?

    "Did you receive the payment from Martin Fowler yet?" How's that a breach of any Data Protection, and how can it be different if it's Martin Fowler the individual or Martin Fowler Ltd the solicitor's company?

    As for the historical records thing... that is utterly inexcusable. Parish Records, the old Somerset House as it was, wherever it's moved to, Microfiche copies of The Times... are we at risk of entering a new Dark Age?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Excellent article

      "the old Somerset House as it was, wherever it's moved to"

      Southport. I suppose a Home Office office in Croydon wouldn't know about such things. After all, it's north of Potters Bar.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Excellent article

        Really? Southport? Home of the a flower show, Red Rum and not much else? I went to school there. And that's now where the national records office is?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Excellent article

          "And that's now where the national records office is?"

          Yes, at least for England and Wales. Presumably you'll recognise the name Smedley Hydro.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Smedley Hydro

            The old Barnardos place? Was a college or something for a bit I think... Well well well.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Smedley Hydro

              "Well well well"

              Life's full of surprises.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Excellent article

      As far as I'm aware a company as a legal entity, even if it's a sole trader, has no "personal" information status.

      Certainly, GDPR refers to, and is concerned wholly with, the rather odd-sounding entity of the "Natural Living Person". My understanding is that this is phrased in this way to exclude legal entities that may otherwise be treated as "persons", such as companies in certain circumstances.

      Of course, IANAL, and that is simply my understanding of why it is phrased this way.

  4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Hindsight?

    Could it be said that the Windrush data was no longer "needed"? In hindsight, no

    No need for hindsight. Several members of staff from the time have stated that they regularly went down to the basement to refer to these slips to confirm various things, and they told their management that. Management still went ahead.

    So, not even in hindsight. At the time it was very clear to the officials that the data was still needed and used. Heads->roll.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Heads->roll.

      This is the civil service, more likely to be a knighthood and a pension.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Heads->roll.

        All it takes is an accident during the knighting...

        1. quxinot

          Re: Heads->roll.

          All it takes is an accident during the knighting...

          Is a sneeze an accident?

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Hindsight?

      In other times May would probably have to resign for this utter fuck up on her watch. Says a lot about the state of the Tory party and, in particular about any possible leadership campaign, that she hasn't. She'd have made Enoch Powell proud.

      Great article!

    3. Philip Storry

      Re: Hindsight?

      Here is some valuable insight into what usually happens...

      --------

      Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, this is what we normally do in circumstances like these.

      James Hacker: [reads memo] This file contains the complete set of papers, except for a number of secret documents, a few others which are part of still active files, some correspondence lost in the floods of 1967...

      James Hacker: Was 1967 a particularly bad winter?

      Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, a marvellous winter. We lost no end of embarrassing files.

      James Hacker: [reads] Some records which went astray in the move to London and others when the War Office was incorporated in the Ministry of Defence, and the normal withdrawal of papers whose publication could give grounds for an action for libel or breach of confidence or cause embarrassment to friendly governments.

      James Hacker: That's pretty comprehensive. How many does that normally leave for them to look at?

      James Hacker: How many does it actually leave? About a hundred?... Fifty?... Ten?... Five?... Four?... Three?... Two?... One?... *Zero?*

      Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, Minister.

      --------

  5. katrinab Silver badge

    Data protection also means not destroying data that is needed surely?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Got it in one.

      I can tell you're not a politician.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Data protection also means not destroying data that is needed surely?

      Data protection means protecting you from the data

      Like fire protection is protecting you from the fire

  6. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    There is no data justification

    The justification is purely political, so stop looking at anything related to data in this one.

    It was a dry run on "cleaning the country from undesirables" using a part of the population which is known to not have resources to put up a good fight. Most of the people affected were in the income bracket we associate with poverty and had no money to afford "lawyering up" for a fight with the Home Office.

    The dry run was mostly successful too. They can now proceed to the real thing post-BrExit.

    If you think I am joking ask any Eu cittizen who has successfully obtained dual nationality or right to remain before 2011 to do a subject request for his original paperwork from the Home Office. It has been destroyed deliberately the same was as Windrush papers. I understood that by pure chance when having a spat(*) with them regarding the son's passport last year.

    Home Office Droid: "Oh, we no longer keep any original paperwork, it has all been shredded".

    Me: "WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?"

    (*)Spat was on an unrelated matter - they did not like the fact that I applied for his passport instead of his mother. I ended up having to threaten them with both a discrimination lawsuit and asking my MP to officially question them on discriminatory policies in the commons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is no data justification

      It was a dry run on "cleaning the country from undesirables" using a part of the population which is known to not have resources to put up a good fight.

      If that was the case, then it shows how stupid and out of touch the government are, because all of the older, more reactionary people I know are bloody furious at the government's incompetence on Windrush (and the similar betrayal in previous years of the Gukhas and foreign civilian interpreters from warzones).

      That older generation are of course also united that they'd like the government to keep out the undesirables from within or outside the EU, but that seems to be another area where successive governments of all persuasions have been and remain out of touch and incompetent.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: There is no data justification

        successive governments of all persuasions have been and remain out of touch and incompetent.

        Yet no matter who we vote for, the government still gets in.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: There is no data justification

      I'm not convinced it was a deliberate dry run - if only for the fact that they picked on a group that had an incontrovertible right to be here. They were not an easy target as events are now showing.

      Cockup over conspiracy every time I'm afraid.

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: There is no data justification

      If the original papers had served their purpose, and a trustworthy document generated, why keep the originals? The existence of the new document is proof that those originals were accurate. If you're really paranoid you could have kept copies yourself.

      they did not like the fact that I applied for his passport instead of his mother. I ended up having to threaten them with both a discrimination lawsuit and asking my MP to officially question them on discriminatory policies in the commons.

      I'm not so sure that's discriminatory. In the days before DNA testing was commonplace it was generally considered much more reliable to indentify a child's mother than his/her father, so the mother often had priority in such situations.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: There is no data justification

        @Phil O'Sophical

        Women can have kids wth donated eggs so zero genetic link there.

        Adoption - zero genetic link, but parent(s) are legally resposnible for that child.

        If someone marries a person who has young kids they typically accept their share of legal rfesponsibility for those unrelated kids.

        So, DNA often irrelevant, thus it was discriminatory (not even going into areas of 2 men having kid via surrogate to add more complex example's of zero mother)

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: There is no data justification

        I'm not so sure that's discriminatory.

        The law and precedent is very clear on it - it is.

        So it should be either:

        1. The way it is in most of Europe where BOTH parents have to jointly apply for the child passport (unless there is a specific court decision giving one parent sole custody).

        2. One parent should be entitled to apply and either one of the parents or guardians of the underage person should have absolutely identical rights regardless of do they have something dangling between their legs or not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There is no data justification

          When we had to get a new US passport for our "accidentally American" son (born while I was working in the US) both my wife and I (neither of us American!) were required to go with him to the US embassy.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This does not surprise me, the whole scandal looks like some Tory xenophobic plot to make the country as hostile to immigrants as possible. You have to question why when the government has all sorts of records (tax/benefit/school/council/nhs/passports and so on) they are having a problem confirming someone has the right to be here as a citizen.

    1. FlatSpot

      You missed a word... "to make the country as hostile to ILLEGAL immigrants"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "to make the country as hostile to ILLEGAL immigrants"

        And making legal ones "ILLEGAL" by destroying the records showing they were legal ones? Maybe that's an ILLEGAL act?

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        You missed a word... "to make the country as hostile to ILLEGAL immigrants"

        The best way to do so is to make sure that the LEGAL ones are OK.

        It is the norm for LEGAL immigrants, families with legal immigrants and their first generation progeny to be on the right side of Attila the Hun on this question. The most hostile group towards ILLEGALS is the LEGALS. The fact that half of UKIP/Vote Leave top brass had an immigrant wife and some of the poster-children of anti-immigrant movement are immigrant's descendants is not a coincidence. It comes with the territory.

        However, what the government did was an explicit act to make the LEGAL immigrants ILLEGAL overnight and disguise it as a data protection obligation. That is completely different from "hostile to ILLEGAL immigrants". It did it for people from Eu too - see my other post. At more or less the same time.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @FlatSpot

        I purposely left off legal or illegal because when someone is xenophobic it matters not.

      4. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        WTF?

        Hostile to ILLEGAL immigrants

        You missed a word... "to make the country as hostile to ILLEGAL immigrants"

        And everyone else who gets hurt is just irrelevant collateral damage?

        It's like trying to catch criminals by locking up everyone who can't prove they have never committed a crime.

      5. Joe Harrison Silver badge

        "to make the country as hostile to ILLEGAL immigrants practically everybody"

        FTFY :(

      6. gnasher729 Silver badge

        "You missed a word... "to make the country as hostile to ILLEGAL immigrants""

        The home office missed that word as well. They found harrassing LEGAL immigrants who have their NI number, tax code, voter registration, and no proof where they lived 40 years ago (can anyone prove that?) is so much easier than finding ILLEGAL immigrants.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "This does not surprise me, the whole scandal looks like some Tory xenophobic plot to make the country as hostile to immigrants as possible."

      Close but no cigar. Labour politicians from the time have already admitted that the decision to destroy the papers happened in their time in office.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Doctor Syntax

        Whilst that may be true (I don't like either side btw) it was the subsequent changes by the Tories that made it an issue otherwise they wouldn't be needed anyway.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Whilst that may be true (I don't like either side btw) it was the subsequent changes by the Tories that made it an issue

          Ah, no matter who's fault it really was we'll blame the nasty tories?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            nasty tories?

            @AC

            They are nasty, I could spend five minutes to find an array of articles proving just that.

            I could also find an array of articles pointing out flaws in labour policies and ideas..

            I could also find an article about the lib-dems if I tried really hard. (I actually don't mind the lib-dem or didn't until they stabbed students in the back with the Tories)

            I don't see your point?

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "it was the subsequent changes by the Tories that made it an issue"

          You may be right but I tend to look at the constant in all this. The Home Office itself.

      2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
        Trollface

        Labour/Tory?

        Sadly bugger all difference between Nu Labour and Tory.

        1. Martin

          Re: Labour/Tory?

          Sadly bugger all difference between Nu Labour and Tory.

          In general, true. But this particular Tory government has demonstrated callousness and utter contempt towards anyone who is disadvantaged in this country, the like of which I have not seen in all my forty five years of voting. They are truly loathsome.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hostility, Hostility, Hostility.

      In practice, the present Government is seriously hostile to almost everybody. As white, middle class, male pensioner, who has voted Tory in the past, I can say with great confidence they are extremely hostile to me.

      However, they are a lot more hostile than that to some of my African friends.

      I have to say that this looks very similar behaviour to what my Jewish grandmother described as the early years of the Nazi government,

      Disgusted

      Nowhere near Tunbridge Wells

  8. Ben1892

    I think it's reasonable to assume that after 60 years of being here legally that you'd have formalised that arrangement with an indefinite visa or a British passport and/or kept hold of the evidence of when you arrived.

    ...or are we saying that an entire generation of immigrants ( that bailed us out of an economic hole after the war - this isn't an anti-immigration rant) weren't issued with any paperwork at all?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      I think it's reasonable to assume that after 60 years of being here legally that you'd have formalised that arrangement with an indefinite visa or a British passport and/or kept hold of the evidence of when you arrived.

      Maybe. If the idea that you are here illegally ever crossed your mind.

      For some people - it did not. Quite rightly too as they were here legally to start off with.

    2. Frederic Bloggs

      That's exactly what we are saying. That, together with an earlier point about shredding arrival information about EU nationals at the same time.

    3. Jedit

      You're missing the point. These people didn't need a visa, because they were already citizens. It wasn't until much later that it was agreed the Empire was over and Commonwealth citizens would not automatically qualify for British nationality. What the Tories are trying to do is retroactively apply that to the people who spent their working lives contributing to Britain, so that we won't have to repay them with care in their retirement. It's a simple attempt to keep the pension system ticking over for their core voter base.

      The killer irony is that to a man Britain's racist filth, who voted Brexit to get back to the glory days of Empire and "kick out the darkies", fail to understand that the Empire is the sole reason said "darkies" came here in the first place.

      (NB: "racist filth" and "Brexit voter" is not a reversible equation here. All racists voted to leave the EU; not all people who voted to leave the EU are racist.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It wasn't until much later that it was agreed the Empire was over realized that China were serious about wanting Hong Kong back with the possibility of several million people there who were UK citizens coming to the "motherland" that it was decided to split UK citizens into those with residency rights in the UK and those who were citizens but living overseas

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          China were serious about wanting Hong Kong back

          On behalf of all the other employers in Vancouver who have their pick of these highly educated hard working people and their academically over-achieving kids can we express our gratitude to the mother country for not letting them in.

          It also makes for a wonderful cuisine, a wide variety of arts and culture and a population who aren't all morbidly obese football-shirt wearing yobs

    4. Jess--

      some of the examples I have heard about did hold british passports and only ran into problems when they came to renew their existing passport

    5. MonkeyBob

      They didn't need any papers when they came over here as the Carribena was part of the British empire .Much like you don't need any papers to move between England/Scotland/Wales nowadays.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        They didn't need any papers when they came over here as the Carribena was part of the British empire .Much like you don't need any papers to move between England/Scotland/Wales nowadays.

        Or Northern Ireland. (technically, doing it is a different matter...)

    6. katrinab Silver badge

      Someone who was taken here by their parents when they were about 3 might not have thought to keep the evidence of their arrival.

      They presumably thought that having a National Insurance number, paying tax, being on the electoral register and so on was good enough evidence of their right to be here.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        I love Caribena. Tasty, tasty blackcurrant goodness.

        1. Loud Speaker Bronze badge

          Caribena<P>

          But even better with rum!

          1. H in The Hague Silver badge

            "But even better with rum!"

            A most excellent idea! Sadly not an option right now as I'm working on some tender docs for a UK company bidding on a fairly large public sector project in NL - while they can. Perhaps later.

    7. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      or are we saying that an entire generation of immigrants

      They weren't technically immigrants, they were Britons with citizenship who moved from one part of the empire to another. Would you expect a Scot to make special arrangements when moving to England?

      1. Loud Speaker Bronze badge

        Would you expect a Scot to make special arrangements when moving to England?<P>

        I think this has demonstrated that the Scots and Irish need to do so immediately or expect the same fate. The Welsh are clearly doomed.

    8. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "you'd have formalised that arrangement with an indefinite visa or a British passport and/or kept hold of the evidence of when you arrived"

      Or, you know, we could assume they are in the right and take a look at other records to determine the validity of that. Records like NI contributions, educational history, health records, electoral role, tax payments...

      But no, far better to assume that they are illegal and ignore all other evidence to the contrary. Typical of May and Cronies.

    9. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      are we saying that an entire generation of immigrants…weren't issued with any paperwork at all?

      Yes, that's exactly what we are saying. And the only paperwork that could be used to demonstrate their status was disposed of in what can only really be called an act of criminal negligence.

    10. tiggity Silver badge

      @Ben1892 I'm without any original docs (from birth cert through to exam results, the all got destroyed in a building fire)

      So original docs can be lst.o

      I'm OK as I was born here - so could get copy of birth cert if needed, but I would be screwed if I was a Windrush person (or if I was offsppring of windrush legal who had no papers). Never assume legal docs will not be lost / destroyed by someting beyond someones control

      1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        Unhappy

        You're certainly not OK

        I'm OK as I was born here - so could get copy of birth cert if needed, but I would be screwed if I was a Windrush person (or if I was offsppring of windrush legal who had no papers).

        Except that just being born in the UK doesn't automatically make you British. e.g. If you were born in the UK between 1 January 1983 and 1 July 2006 then you can only be British if at least one parent was British and living in the UK. If your mother wasn't British but your father was, then this only works if he was married to your mother. https://www.gov.uk/types-of-british-nationality/british-citizenship

        So, you will have to obtain your birth certificate and a parent's birth certificate and possibly your parent's marriage certificate. And then prove that they all refer to the same people - i.e. your father listed on your birth certificate is the same person that "his" birth certificate describes. And prove that you are the person that "your" birth certificate refers to. Good luck with all that, especially if your parents are dead, or even used different names at different points in their lives (which is surprisingly common). It is what the person verbally says their name is to the registrar when recording a birth that goes on the form.

        Hope your not needing to use your car, any medical treatment, a bank account, any rental accommodation or a job. You may have been born here, and never left the country, but that knock you just heard on the door was the immigration service coming to take you away.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: You're certainly not OK

          If you were born in the UK between 1 January 1983 and 1 July 2006 then you can only be British if at least one parent was British and living in the UK.

          Incorrect. Children of parents with permanent leave to remain from that period are also British citizens.

          So, you will have to obtain your birth certificate and a parent's birth certificate and possibly your parent's marriage certificate.

          One of the reasons why the paperwork for permanent leave to remain is still sitting in our house fire safe nearly two decades after the event. It is also paperwork which I KNOW the Home Office has destroyed. They were fully aware of the consequences as in its absence all children birth certificates as well as certificates of naturalization issued after that can be deemed invalid. "Creating Hostile Environment" for ILLEGAL ALL immigrants.

  9. Teiwaz Silver badge

    How is it?

    That the government always manages come to utterly the wrong conclusion on data retention.

    If it's required, throw it away, as in the Windrush case, if it can be at all argued that it's retention is a human rights abuse, keep it and fight tooth and nail with whatever lame excuse comes to mind to keep it, as in the case of the police custody shots.

    I am reminded of the remonstration Lois gives to Peter in a Family Guy episode about 'if his brain tells him to do something, not to do it, while if his brain tells him not to do something, it's probably the right thing to do.'

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: How is it?

      Because when they do it right, it isn't news.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: How is it?

        "Because when they do it right, it isn't news."

        It is news. And a bloody miracle.

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: How is it?

        Re: How is it?

        Because when they do it right, it isn't news.

        It also doesn't needlessly stress up whole portions of the populous and make the UK look like a shoddy badly run country with delusions of not merely adequacy but thinks it's actually competent.

        The Uk maybe, recent governments, far from it.

      3. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: How is it?

        >Because when they do it right, it isn't news.

        Citation they've ever done it right, or I call FAKE NEWS!

  10. Slx

    You could also argue that they failed to keep accurate data that was relevant to these people's cases and then not only that, but made false and extremely damaging allegations that they were illegitimately and illegally in the UK, based on inaccurate data and then gave them no reasonable opportunity to correct this.

    All of that looks like data protection breeches and mismanagement of data.

    Not only that but they falsely accuatons have resulted in significant material and reputational damage.

    I sincerely hope that there are plenty of very expensive law suits. They turned people's lives upside down for no reason whatsoever.

    There may even be people who were actually deported because of this who may have no means to get back and may be in bad circumstances. Many are elderly, maybe unwell or disabled. Just when they should have been selling info to a long and happy retirement they were sent threatening letters and all sorts of crazy nonsense kicked off.

    I wish them every luck in any legal actions that they take!

    1. Jedit

      "they failed to keep accurate data that was relevant to these people's cases"

      When the data was thrown out, it wasn't relevant; these people had undisputed indefinite right to remain. It only became relevant when May decided it was now relevant - after knowingly overseeing its destruction.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "they failed to keep accurate data that was relevant to these people's cases"

        Indeed, this is what makes me really cross.

        The default position now simply being, "the computer says no" while paper records are destroyed. Coupled with the computer enhanced position of "absence of evidence is now evidence of absence" it will be forever impossible for people with partial documentation or documents "not on the approved list" to ever get through the process.

        Immigration status will often not be checked, or even asked about for decades after people arrive, especially if they arrive as a child and it doesn't come up until an employer checks.

        The home office also take every opportunity to charge people fees for doing their own job, while losing files and documentation in "Archives" and starting the whole process again. This then creates its own inefficiency and effort for the home office, while also preventing people from getting a job and paying tax.

        If the threshold is now computer generated, I would expect it to be almost impossible to work effectively for another 20-30 years as data required now simply does not exist.

    2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
      Trollface

      Ah, data protection breeches.

      I have a pair in a fetching silver grey.

      They protect my citizenship information which is tattooed on my penis. Including my place of birth in, let me check....ah,yes; Ludo. Although I though the name was longer.......

  11. Frederic Bloggs

    Safekeeping

    GDPR isn't just about disposal, it's also about keeping personal data safe and secure. IIRC this applies under the current regulations as well.

    It seems to me that HMG has comprehensively failed in its duty of care to do the "safe" part.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Safekeeping

      I think there was a reasonable expectation by the owners of this data that it would be kept. The Home Office was obviously aware that it was still being used. The DPA requires that data is processed fairly and I would suggest that destroying this data does not amount to fair processing.

      I believe this destruction was a contrary to the DPA. If this is the case the Civil Servants who made the decision to destroy these landing cards may have committed the criminal offence of "Misconduct In Public Office".

  12. Flak

    History will be history!

    These types of records are historical records as well as clearly having a vital purpose to validate someone's legitimacy to reside in the UK.

    Genealogical research relies on (permanently) kept historical records. A balance needs to be struck between data protection and historical record keeping. For some records there should be a time embargo, but we have the means to keep those records and digitise them to make storage, search and retrieval much easier.

    1. David Harper 1

      Re: History will be history!

      Indeed. The government retains census records going back to 1841, and makes them publicly (and now digitally) available once they are more than 100 years old. What were once records collected to allow government to monitor the population are now a priceless resource for historians and genealogists.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: History will be history!

        Are we sure BMD records don't fall foul of GDPR or what some nutter may misinterpret GDPR to mean - public line: look we have to shred all these records because of GDPR, political line: look if we shred all these records we can save a barrowload of money which we can then spend on useful things like duck houses...

        Which reminds me, shredded paper makes good animal bedding, so we can sell the paper to the highest bidder!

  13. colinb

    Fail on many levels

    Apart from the Operational need there is a historic element to this.

    You can search more than 51 million passenger records for Ellis Island today. https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/passenger.

    They would have been paper and ledgers, now all digitised. A fantastic resource for people tracing their family tree.

    Future generations will rue the loss of such a resource.

  14. EastFinchleyite

    Your papers please

    "Could it be said that the Windrush data was no longer "needed"? In hindsight, no"

    The old aphorism "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," applies here. Where the person in the Home Office made a big mistake was, having ordered the destruction of the documentation, they then claimed that people didn't have the documentation to prove they landed legally. Of course they didn't have the documentation, YOU THREW IT AWAY, DUMMY!

    Throwing away the documentation as unnecessary, then claiming it was necessary to justify residence is self contracting. It shows either incompetence or malice. Which gets me to my second point.

    "The Home Office" didn't make and carry out this policy, individuals did, a mix of politicians and civil servants. The claim that "I was just obeying orders" doesn't stand up. They took the money and probably were promoted for a job well done. Now the truth is out, they should bear responsibility for their actions. If you get an order in your job that you think is wrong, get another job. I expect they will hide behind the shield of anonymity as usual.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Your papers please

      Quote

      I expect they will hide behind the shield of anonymity as usual.

      Or if they are found out, they'll be retired on a full pension and golden handshake like every other senior official found out to be an utter wanker

      (unless they were a junior level clerk on min wage in which case they'll be imprisoned for the next 25 yrs)

      Me? cynical? never!

  15. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Glad you've covered this

    I've been in Britain 25 years (with a passport to match, thanks very much) and I can't think of a government action during that time that has disgusted me more than this. And I've had quite a few to choose from too.

    Even Iraq had a whiff of inevitability about it, but this is just a "find any excuse to throw people out of the country" situation. Born here?. Too fucking bad, your papers are not in order and we're stripping you of your healthcare, job, assets and deporting you. It's not incompetence, it's insanity stemming from a sheer fucking panic that we are somehow being overrun by migrants, like some sort of plague of human locusts. And that is simply not the case.

    Anyone with a moral compass should feel very, very ashamed to be involved in this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Glad you've covered this

      I've a couple of mates who work at the UK Border Agency and they are totally disgusted with this whole sorry story and morale is extremely low over this and the impending brexit border shit-storm.

    2. andy gibson

      Re: Glad you've covered this

      IIRC the Shane Ridge situation you refer to was quickly resolved the next day.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/30/home-office-apologises-for-wrongly-telling-british-man-shane-ridge-leave-uk

      1. Martin
        FAIL

        Re: Glad you've covered this

        the Shane Ridge situation you refer to was quickly resolved the next day...

        No - it was resolved the next day after the papers got hold of it. He'd presumably spent several days before that in a major panic.

        But hey, the Home Office apologised, so that's all right then.

  16. NeverMindTheBullocks

    Not Vital Interests.

    "As for actual data processing, Article 6 provides for the lawful processing of data where "processing is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject or of another natural person"."

    On a technical note re. the article Article 6, Para(1(c)) does set out the use of Vital Interests however this needs to be read in conjunction with the relevant recital, in this case Recital 46.

    https://gdpr-info.eu/art-6-gdpr/

    https://gdpr-info.eu/recitals/no-46/

    This clarifies that Vital Interests should only be used where no other Legitimate Basis can be relied on and processing " is necessary to protect an interest which is essential for the life of the data subject or that of another natural person" such as "humanitarian purposes, including for monitoring epidemics and their spread or in situations of humanitarian emergencies, in particular in situations of natural and man-made disasters."

    The intent for Vital Interests is that it should only be used in life saving situations where no other form of consent or other basis is available. In this case that would be difficult to prove.

    Article 5(e) is the applicable reference here as you point out.

    https://gdpr-info.eu/art-5-gdpr/

    "Kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; "

    It also includes archiving in the public interest, scientific, historical or statistical research.

    Since the purposes for which is was collected was to prove legitimate and lawful arrival in the UK for the data subjects an their dependants then keeping records for 75 Years or longer would be perfectly reasonable.

  17. Dr_N Silver badge

    Dry Run

    This incident is a cautionary tale for all EUers who are planning to stay living in the UK after Brexit.

    Just remember you too (and your family members) can be made "illegal" at any time in the future at the whim of this or future uk.govs.

    Forewarned is forearmed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dry Run

      OMG!! All these poor EUers are going to be in the same situation as Americans, Australians, Chinese, Koreans,Mexicans, in fact "almost everyone". Well, thanks for forewarning us.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Dry Run

        Exactly. uk.gov keeps saying that everything will be okay and no rights are being deleted. So no need to worry! (And UK embassy staff are also issuing similar platitudes to UKers resident in the EU.)

        Which is all clearly bobbins as the Windrush story now illustrates.

        (It's sometimes difficult to understand and empathise when you're not affected, I know ....)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dry Run

          (It's sometimes difficult to understand and empathise when you're not affected, I know ....)

          Really? Patronising, aren't you. As it happens I am potentially affected.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Dry Run

        "All these poor EUers are going to be in the same situation as Americans, Australians, Chinese, Koreans,Mexicans, in fact "almost everyone""

        Not at all.

        EU citizens don't need a visa to be in the UK. Those other groups will have visas describing what they are allowed to do. EU citizens, many of whom have made the UK their home for decades, lived, worked, paid taxes, raised children here, could suddenly be made illegal if the Gov pulls a similar stunt. In fact in the case of EU-ers there are not even any landing cards to be destroyed, so it would be easier.

  18. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
    Holmes

    Won't someone think of the children... doing Family Trees!

    Even if central government couldn't find a use for these papers, they could have been scanned by the people at Kew and kept for those interested in researching their family history.

    But then the people in power at the time who ordered the records destroyed wouldn't have a sh***y stick to beat the current government with - funny how the Opposition can't remember who gave the orders and keep blaming everybody else (as usual)... if I was inclined to be cynical, I might suspect it was deliberate...

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Did someone mention trees? Re: Won't someone think of the children... doing Family Trees!

      @not.known@this.address - "scanned by the people at Kew and kept"

      And the Botanic Gardens later produces an exquisitely detailed study of 'Tree species used in British Government papers in the 20th Century'. "But you didn't say the writing was important".

  19. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    When I was a kid

    When I was a kid nobody had a passport because nobody had ever been abroad except the ones who got sent there with a rifle and were lucky enough to come back again. When I got a Visitors Passport for a school trip to France everyone crowded round to see what one looked like.

    I doubt if any of my family could have *proven* they had the right to be there to the standard now being asked.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: When I was a kid

      I doubt if any of my family could have *proven* they had the right to be there to the standard now being asked.

      They probably could - it's a very simple paper based test.

      If your skin is the same colour as a piece of paper you are ok

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is a useful reminder to those who are buying British resident / citizen status to make sure they get a signed & dated receipt for their $1 / $5 million.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Just need to make sure the receipt isn't your typical thermal printed till roll receipt; these tend to only last 1~3 years hidden in the expenses folder...

      Plus do you really expect the HO to maintain copies of receipts for more than 7 years? :)

  21. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    If the Home Office decided they no longer needed/wanted this stuff, they should have passed it to the National Archives, not destroyed them. We've already suffered from the 1931 census being accidently lost in a fire, there's no justification to compound things like that by *deliberately* destroying stuff.

  22. tip pc

    Obviously an election is approaching

    Lots of anti Tory sentiment above, obviously due to the upcoming election and Labour supporters trying to influence votes.

    I’d rather politics stayed off this site, it’s a good refuge for us to avoid that crap.

    1. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: Obviously an election is approaching

      "Lots of anti Tory sentiment above, obviously due to the upcoming election and Labour supporters trying to influence votes."

      Not necessarily. Given my bank balance, postcode and own business I should be an obvious Tory voter but that doesn't stop me criticising them, which most certainly doesn't make me a Labour supporter (esp. not with Corbyn in charge). The current torrent of criticism of May and Rudd is entirely self-infliced and due to a combination of incompetence and malice - not much to do with politics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Obviously an election is approaching

        Not necessarily. Given my bank balance, postcode and own business I should be an obvious Tory voter

        Same here.

        The current torrent of criticism of May and Rudd

        I do not need to be a Labour supporter to start choking when I hear verbatim quotes from Stalin and Hitler speeches at a Tory party conference. One has killed one quarter of my family tree, the other one the other.

        They are really verbatim quotes by the way. Rudd was verbatim quoting out of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, May was verbatim quoting out of Stalin's speech in the Kremlin on the 24th of May 1945 which signified the beginning of the second stage of his campaign against the Jews as well as the follow-up speeches by Stalin and Zhdanov. I do not think you can go any more racist than these golden standards.

    2. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Obviously an election is approaching

      "Lots of anti Tory sentiment above, obviously due to the upcoming election and Labour supporters trying to influence votes."

      It's actually just anti-whoever was responsible for the current debacle, which usually happens to be those in power, ie. in this case the Tories.

  23. Eclectic Man

    DPA Principle 7

    states that you as a data controller are required to protect personal information from accidental or unlawful destruction. I humbly suggest that the destruction of the landing cards of the 'Windrush' generation was in breach of principle 7 of the DPA, and therefore unlawful.

    (Apologies if I m repeating an earlier post, but I've not actually managed to read them all yet.)

    I should probably admit that one of my parents was a refuge from NAZI Germany, so I'm possibly a bit biased when it comes to protecting immigrants' right.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Judging by all the unlawful decisions Queen Theresa has made over the years

    She doesn't think the law applies to her...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Might as well put up a giant sign now

    Brexit might not have been intended as a way to reject Johnny Foreigner (reasonable people can differ on that point) but it sure as hell brought the worst out of the UK Government. Young continental Europeans - go away! Old Commonwealth Caribbeans - go away! What next?

    I'm almost at the point where I want Brexit to come along and trash the UK so damn hard that even the most swivel-eyed Daily Mail reader realizes what a gigantic, colossal mistake it was. Sadly, that will also be the point where I'm jobless, homeless and being looked at squiffily for daring to be an off-white shade in Teresa May's pale and unpleasant land.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bottom line is forget GDPR etc.....these were important national/historical/social records that merit long term storage (a legitimate case for retention as allowed under GDPR...?) - think Ellis Island records for US immigration for our American Cousins, Parish records, Census data from prior centuary(ies) or even the Doomsday Book for goodness sake! Send to national archives, Somerset House or anywhere for long term retention just don't be dumb and destroy such unique & irreplaceable information. No one should have been in a position to authorise destruction - not even a Labour Home Sec or official under their control (contrary to article decision taken when Labour in power in '09 not Her Mayness - even if action actually taken post transition), blame for this should be shared not used to point to one side or the other, rather everyone needs to learn. Attitudes like this destruction point to next Dark Ages (but in this case without the nuclear winter?!)...

    ....oh, and don't rely on school records either! Am British born and bred and with long lineage (& Passport!) but in their position I may have problem. Found out last night that old school went through several transitions/name changes after I left and eventually merged with another local school and relocated to joint new site.....old school demolished some years ago and now no records available! :-( Sad....

  27. PaulVD
    Facepalm

    Shredded?

    "their dog stumbles across the shredded Windrush documents blowing around in a skip somewhere."

    What makes the author think they were shredded rather than just dumped? It would be consistent with the rest of the sorry mess if they were just dumped in the skips with the other construction rubble.

  28. RancidRodent

    If an English person was invited to and emigrated to the West Indies, they then didn't bother to do any of the required paperwork including applying for citizenship - when the authorities kick them out 30 years later - would there be any sympathy? We'd be asking the obvious question:- "why didn't you do what was required of you?" - the other way round we bow and apologise when the fault actually lays with the people who couldn't be "arksed" to fill out the paperwork and follow the rules.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      they then didn't bother to do any of the required paperwork

      There was NO requirement to do anything, they were Commonwealth citizens. There was no further paperwork to fill out. The landing cards (now destroyed) were all that was required, at the time.

      Why don't you go and learn about it, instead of coming out with ill-informed bollocks.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      "If an English person was invited to and emigrated to the West Indies, they then didn't bother to do any of the required paperwork including applying for citizenship"...

      If that English person were told that they could stay indefinitely, without any need to apply for citizenship, then all the documentation that they arrived legally was intentionally destroyed, and then 30 years later when everyone knows that they are in the country legally, they are asked for the first time to produce 30 year old evidence...

      Since the government is supposed to record which foreigners enter and leave the country, they could easily check that data, and if there is no evidence that someone left the country for two years, then they haven't. The government also should keep tax records, and if someone paid income taxes for the last 45 years, they have been here.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Don't feed the troll...

  29. silverfern

    Windrush & Co.:

    @ Dan 55:

    If the UK had had a decent immigration system with immigration legislation, regulations and procedures etc. back then, such legal immigrants would have been registered on entry and their details securely recorded. They may even have been issued with residence permits, although as British citizens, that might not have been necessary.

    But had such records been recorded, stored and not "accidentally" destroyed, this scandal would never have occurred in the first place.

    @ anonymous coward:

    Whether tracking citizens and other legal foreign residents is "mediaeval" is debatable. I accept – and have said elsewhere on El Reg – that ID cards and compulsory residence registration are, as they were originally intended – merely, i.e. primarily, instruments or public administration. The trouble is that they are a two-edged sword that lends itself to abuse ("Papers, please!") – especially if you were born with a serious suntan.

    Put these two together and you have – especially if both are compulsory in law, as here in Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere in continental Europe – a small-scale surveillance state. Where such a system makes it illegal to live under the radar, you do not, in my view, have a full democracy.

    @ anonymous cowards ("is not being challenged for our 'papers' ") & MonkeyCee & DavCrav ("Papers please")

    I happily stand to be corrected but I wouldn't mind betting that UK law requires you to give the police your name, address and date of birth.

    Being the cynic I am, it's entirely conceivable to me that someone engineered this "Windrush" affair in an effort to spur the introduction of a national ID card and compulsory residential registration, the way the Scots, possibly the Northern Irish and (latterly) the Irish have done by subterfuge.

    The irony is that as a result of the Windrush affair, these measures could – conceivably – be introduced after the UK leaves the European Union. In both cases, time will tell.

    @ Wapiya: ID cards

    Pedantry on:

    A German ID card is actually useful: (i) for keeping the cops off your back and (ii) for proving that you are who you claim to be, which in 99.99999% of all cases is the same as your true identity.

    If you live in Germany, you will know that most Germans carry their ID cards or passports with them voluntarily as a matter of convenience. (By the way: are you a German citizen?)

    Pedantry off.

    As far as your family book was concerned, I suspect that the bureaucrat you were dealing with was either deliberately giving you the run-around, was incompetent or both.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Windrush & Co.:

      "... introduction of a national ID card and compulsory residential registration, the way the Scots, possibly the Northern Irish and (latterly) the Irish have done by subterfuge."

      So much subterfuge that it isn't noticeable! Mrs IP and I moved to Scotland about six years ago, and we've seen no sign of an ID card or compulsory residential registration. Mrs IP isn't even a UK citizen, and yet there has been no sign of a requirement to register anything. What are you referring to?

      1. silverfern

        Re: Windrush & Co.:

        I'm talking about the Scottish National Entitlement Card (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_National_Entitlement_Card) which, while voluntary, entitles holders, e.g. pensioners, to free use of some services such as bus transport. There are fears that it will over time effectively become a (form of) ID card in that some or many services will be unavailable without it. All Scots are also assigned a Unique Citizen Reference Number (UCRN) which is linked to the Card. (See same link.)

        The Republic of Ireland has recently introduced a Public Services Card which, while voluntary, is required if one wishes to obtain a driving licence and a passport. (I am not talking about the Irish passport card which is an adjunct to the Irish passport and is genuinely voluntary.)

        Northern Ireland has had a Northern Ireland Voter’s Card since (I think) about the 1980s but I stand to be corrected on that date/period. Unsurprisingly, this card does not appear to be controversial.

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Cynicalmark
    Devil

    Whitehall

    No matter which govt, the political machine grinding away in an ineffective inefficient incompetent way as usual is the vacuous entity of Whitehall. Yes they stay the same and pat each other on the back for leaks here and there with the odd MBE etc.

    We have an over bloated loathsome ruling elite. It is the bureaucrat and not the politician.

    The politician is the PR guy, the pen pusher is the one with real power.

    God how I hate them all. I’m off to have some tranquillisers before I kick my telly in again grrrrrrrr

  32. Stork Bronze badge

    More generally

    Do you delete old emails? What about backups?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BOFH: Data protection

    BOFH to PFY: It's time to destroy the employee records of the senior management team

    PFY: Er, they are still working upstairs...

    BOFH: No worries, they soon wont be, and they will not be able to return as there will be no record of them ever having existed at this company...

    PFY: How's that?

    BOFH: Well, remember a few years ago we change the payroll system to pay out via that Panama based holding company, their own records will not show they worked here, ours will match once you have destroyed the paperwork, and I'll delete all their accounts from the systems, which of course are numbers not names.

    PFY: What will happen then?

    BOFH: We will re-plan the top floor with cubicles instead of offices, cover it in piles of our own paperwork and sit back...

  34. paulc

    at the very least...

    they should have been transferred to the National Archives as matters of important historical record...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A local council...

    ...I work at who "Went Google" had an information office who's stated "We can now just claim we don't have the data. Now that we use Google, have no easy way of searching a back log of e-mail and have no e-mail backups because people can just delete the e-mail, the delete it from the bin and it's gone forever. So we can get away with claiming we no longer have the data".

    Ignoring the fact there should be a retention policy. Lucky for them, at least the legal department fought this so they can keep their e-mails. However, their software requires them to continue to use Outlook. So not only do they piss money away on a monthly Google sub, they also have to continue to pay for their Microsoft Office licence because along with the legal department who still require it, the finance department refuse to use anything other than Excel. I doubt blame them, Google Sheets is shit.

    Office 365 would of been the better choice. But appear you need a consultant to tell you that despite every fucking one who works there saying Office was a better choice.

    Some brown envelopes changed hands no doubt with regarding to the Google move.

  36. briesmith

    How much?

    My bet is they asked those lovely companies that methodically strip the taxpayer of billions a year - you know the ones I mean - while giving very little in return for a quote for microfilming/microfiching the slips, got quotes for several million so decided it would be cheaper to just shred them.

    One of the companies that strip etc probably received only marginally less for shredding them than they would have got for filming them but, hey ho, look at the money we saved.

    For any buyer other than a government department the cost of filming the slips would have been trivial, a few thousand or thereabouts. My theory as to why such a relatively simple administrative task wasn't done is all too likely. Sadly.

  37. CJN1946

    They are not talking about millions of people here, the paper could have been shredded and the details put on a database.

  38. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Doesn't this make it easier to be illegal?

    If people forged some documentation that was issued to the Windrush arrivals, there is now no way of checking it against the government copies, so presumably it would have to be accepted as genuine unless the forgery contained a mistake. I suspect that the inks and paper that was used in those days can still be obtained.

  39. Visual Artist
    Flame

    Amber Rudd Home Secretary should NOT resign and all Tories should support her.

    This wasn't Amber Rudd's fault, it was the fault of the previous 2009 Labour government who made the initial DISCRIMINATORY 'administrative' decision to destroy the landing cards making legal British Commonwealth citizens illegal migrants.

    Although Data Protection was the reason given in this report, the cards should never have been destroyed because the Windrush generation never had any other legal paperwork to show and prove that that they were legal migrants in view of the British Nationality Act 1948 for [British] Commonwealth citizens.It looks like a deliberately racist 2009 Labour policy in view of all the legal EU flood of migrants they were letting into Britain!

    Amber Rudd Home Secretary should NOT resign over this and ALL Tories and the Prime Minister should support her in her post.

  40. Visual Artist
    Alert

    The Windrush landing cards should NEVER have been destroyed or been required to be destroyed

    The Windrush landing cards should NEVER have been destroyed or been required to be destroyed in any case either [in 2009 under The Labour Government's proposal as Theresa May previously claimed in Parliament] because they were the only evidence the Home Office held to prove that they were LEGAL British migrants!

    The 1998 Data Protection Act was simply used as an excuse to unlawfully destroy the evidence of the LEGAL Windrush British migrants being lawfully resident British citizens via their landing cards so that they could unlawfully deport them as illegal migrants in preference to legal migrants arriving from the EU in droves to claim all our state benefits and social housing!

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