Windrush scandal victim finally returns to UK after 40 years of Caribbean exile

Windrush scandal victim finally returns to UK after 40 years of Caribbean exile

A Windrush scandal victim who was stranded in the Caribbean for more than 40 years after being refused re-entry to the UK has finally returned to the country.

Richard Black, 70, who had lived in England since he was six, was wrongly stripped of his British citizenship in 1983 by the Home Office because of a mistake in his passport, a decision that barred him from entering the country for decades. He has been stateless ever since.

Mr Black, who lives in Trinidad and Tobago, spent years contesting his case before the government approved a return resident visa for him. He has now returned to the UK, Independent witnessing the moment he arrived at London’s Gatwick Airport with his wife Cleo on Monday morning.

“I’m glad to be here,” the older man said.

Mr Black was born in St Lucia but moved to the UK as a young boy and grew up in Notting Hill, west London.

Richard Black, 70, flew back to the UK on Monday morning (The Independent/Nadine White)

However, authorities did not allow him to return to the country when his passport expired while he was traveling to visit his in-laws in Trinidad and Tobago. He was 29 at the time.

Mr Black’s ex-wife, two of his daughters and his entire life were in the UK, but the distance caused his marriage to break up and he lost touch with his family. He was unable to even attend his mother’s funeral in 2003.

Mr Black’s story came to light after the Windrush scandal came to light in 2018. He was initially expected to travel to the UK in April 2021, as first reported Independent then.

Richard Black in Trinidad: “I became a beggar, dependent on the kindness of strangers to give me food” (submitted)

But his move was beset by three years of “worrying” delays, including whether his wife could join him. Mr Black said the Home Office was initially reluctant to facilitate Ms Black’s travel to the UK with her husband.

The St Lucia-born Briton returned to the UK on a returning resident visa after negotiating accommodation, financial and benefit arrangements for his wife, whom he married in 2014.

In the official offer letter that I saw IndependentThe government explains that this gives the pensioner unlimited rights of residence in the UK. However, they will still need to apply for British citizenship in the future, despite being a British citizen by birth.

The Windrush compensation scheme was launched in April 2019 (PA archive)

Mr Black, whose real name is Leo Marius, is estranged from his British-born children, whom he has not seen since 1983. They were aged six and two at the time and he says he believes he has “abandoned” them.

“I am angry at the policies that the government has put in place and I am also angry that this whole scandal has affected people of colour from different Commonwealth countries; it seems to be driven solely by race,” he said. Independent in the previous interview.

“I became a beggar, relying on the kindness of strangers for food. I became emaciated and unkempt,” he added, explaining how he fell on hard times after being stranded in the Caribbean. “I basically lost all hope of ever getting back to the UK.”

The Ministry of Interior has been contacted for comment.