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Government admits Windrush data breach

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In a serious breach of data protection laws, the Home Office has admitted that an administrative error has exposed the email addresses of hundreds of Windrush migrants. These recipients had all signed up to be kept informed about the Windrush compensation scheme which was launched last week.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes has apologised for the Windrush data breach, and the matter has been referred to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

Windrush generation compensation scheme

Today, an estimated 500,000 people are living in the UK who arrived between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries. Many were given indefinite leave to remain. These workers have been called the Windrush generation in reference to a ship which brought people to the UK.

However, despite living and working in the UK for decades, many children of these citizens were subsequently told to leave because of a lack of official paperwork. Many travelled on their parents' passports.

And, without documentation, changes to immigration law in 2012 resulted in many people being held in detention or made to leave the UK.

Following a backlash, the government has since apologised for the "appalling" way these people have been treated. And, a scheme was launched to help those who experienced a loss because they could not demonstrate their lawful right to live in the UK.

The government is expected to pay up to £200m in compensation to people who suffered after being wrongly classified as illegal immigrants. According to the home secretary, there is no cap on the fund.

Windrush data breach

In a written statement, the Immigration Minister said: "Regrettably, in promoting the scheme via email to interested parties, an administrative error was made, which has meant data protection requirements have not been met, for which the Home Office apologises unreservedly.

"This occurred in emails sent to some of the individuals and organisations who had registered an interest in being kept informed about the launch of the compensation scheme, which included other recipients' email addresses. Five batches of emails, each with 100 recipients, were affected. No other personal data was included.

"A recall was commenced as soon as the problem had been identified. The departmental data protection officer has been informed and an internal review will be conducted to ensure this cannot happen again. The department has voluntarily notified the Information Commissioner's Office of the incident. I am firmly committed to doing right by the Windrush generation."

What can you do if you have suffered because of the Windrush data breach?

Experiencing a data breach can result in significant stress and anxiety, which can lead to a diagnosable psychological injury.

For people who have already been wrongly branded as "illegal immigrants" knowing that their personal information has been violated could be particularly distressing.

If you have suffered damage or distress caused by the Windrush data breach you have a right to claim compensation. To find out how we can help you recover any losses, contact us to discuss your case in more depth.

For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.