Windrush campaigner 'dressed and ready' to be deported every morning

Man, 68, wrongly branded an illegal immigrant in the Windrush scandal reveals he was ‘dressed and ready to be taken away’ at 6am every morning for 18 months

  • Michael Braithwaite, 68, Hampstead Heath, wrongly branded illegal immigrant 
  • Arrived in UK from Barbados as a child in 1961 worked as teaching assistant 
  • Father lost job for not having an up-to-date identity document two years ago 
  • Told he had ‘sleepless nights’ and blamed himself for accusations against him 

A man who was wrongly branded an illegal immigrant amid the Windrush scandal told he would be ‘dressed and ready’ to be deported everyday at 6am for 18-months.  

Michael Braithwaite, 68, arrived in London from Barbados as a child in 1961 but two years ago lost his job as a special needs teaching assistant, which he’d had for 15-years, for not having up-to-date identity documentation. 

The father-of-three, who now campaigns for victims of the Windrush scandal, appeared on This Morning where he spoke of the ‘nightmares’ and ‘sleepless nights’ he suffered after being wrongly accused. 

He risked being sent back to a country where he had ‘nothing’ waiting for him, and said that for 18-months he would be dressed and ready at 6am for a knock on his door, telling him he was to be deported. 

Michael Braithwaite, 68, arrived in London from Barbados as a child in 1961 but two years ago lost his job for not having an up-to-date identity documentation. He is pictured on This Morning today

Michael (pictured far left) was part of a group who last week delivered a petition to Downing Street signed by 130,000 people calling for action surrounding the Windrush Scandal last week 

‘I had nightmares’, said Michael. ‘The doorbell would ring and I would be down at the front door, thinking I was going to be taken away. 

‘I was informed they turn up at six in the morning, I was always dressed and ready waiting for that moment to come. 

’18 months, I didn’t sleep. I don’t suffer with anxiety but at some point I started thinking, “This is my fault, how can it be anyone else’s? How can anyone put me in this position?”.’  

Michael said being branded an illegal immigrant made him feel like a ‘criminal’ in his own country, and said he couldn’t even speak to his family because his ‘self worth had gone.’ 

He told hosts Philip Schofield and Davina McCall (pictured)  of the ‘nightmares’ and ‘sleepless nights’ he would suffer after being wrongly accused 

He told that for 18-months he would be dressed and ready at 6AM for a knock on his door telling him he was to be deported 

He said: ‘I was in a void, I felt like a criminal. I felt my self-worth had gone, my state of mind, I became very silent. 

‘I wouldn’t even talk to my family. I thought it was my fault. For someone to tell you you have no worth, you don’t belong here – this is my country.’ 

Michael – who has lived in the UK since childhood – also told that celebrating British culture was ‘part of his heritage’. 

Last week, Windrush victims called on the government to speed up compensation and begin to implement recommendations from the Windrush Lessons Learned review

The report singled out for criticism the Government’s ‘hostile-environment’ policy, which was brought in by the then home secretary, Theresa May, in 2012

He said: ‘In the Caribbean, we lived a British life. We celebrated the Queen, we honoured being part of the British empire. 

‘We went to church, it was part of our structure, it was part of our heritage, celebrating the Queen. For someone to take that, you may as well take all of myself.’ 

When asked what would have been waiting for him in Barbados had he been deported, he said: ‘Nothing at all. My family members were gone or had died. 

‘There was nothing there for me to relate to, I had nothing left in that part of the world. 

‘In my community I worked with a lot of children and the parents helped fundraise. I was so grateful for that. In that time of stress where do you turn to?’

When asked what would have been waiting for him in Barbados had he been deported, he said: ‘ Nothing at all. My family members were gone or had died’ 

Michael was part of a group who last week delivered a petition to Downing Street signed by 130,000 people calling on the government to speed up compensation and begin to implement recommendations from the Windrush Lessons Learned review.

Earlier this year, an official inquiry into the treatment of the Windrush generation ripped into the Home Office over ‘appalling’ failures that led to legal British residents being deported and made destitute .

The report – titled Windrush Lessons Learned Review – singled out for criticism the Government’s ‘hostile-environment’ policy, which was brought in by the then home secretary, Theresa May, in 2012.

It was meant to crack down on illegal migrants, but caused ‘profound’ problems for legal migrants from the Windrush generation, who arrived in Britain from the 1940s to the 1970s.   

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