Amber Rudd ‘let down by officials’ before resigning as Home Secretary, report finds

Amber Rudd MP for Hastings & Rye
Amber Rudd MP for Hastings & Rye

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd was let down by her officials in the lead up to her resignation as Home Secretary, a report has found.

Ms Rudd resigned from the role on April 29 after she was criticised for the Government’s handling of the Windrush scandal – where some migrants from Commonwealth countries who settled in the UK, and their relatives, had been declared illegal immigrants.

In her letter to the Prime Minister in April, Ms Rudd said she felt it was necessary to resign as she had ‘inadvertently misled’ the Home Affairs Select Committee over targets for removals of illegal immigrants during their questions on Windrush.

A report by Sir Alex Allan, the prime minister’s advisor on ministers’ interests, found Ms Rudd had been given the wrong information by her officials who then failed to clear up the problem.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Nick Robinson in October, Ms Rudd said: “Unfortunately I was told certain things which turned out not to be true and even at the time I resigned I was told it was unlikely that we have illegally deported anybody and a week later the new Home Secretary (Sajid Javid) said we have deported 64.

“So I mean they (her officials) just didn’t know what the facts were.

“On top of that, somebody in the department was doing a lot of hostile leaking to the Guardian which meant that as I revealed I didn’t quite know what was going on there was this very hostile evidence circulating around the media as well.”

In Sir Alex’s report, the former home secretary is shown to have asked her officers – before the Home Affairs Select Committee hearing – if there were any removal targets, to which she was told there were not.

The report’s executive summary says: “That led to her firm denial (“we do not have targets for removals”) in the hearing. I cannot establish how she was given this reply: the most likely explanation is crossed wires between her special adviser and her private office.”

“After the Home Secretary had given her answer in the hearing, there were confused email exchanges trying to establish the position on targets. The initial line that there were indeed no targets was undermined when it emerged that there had been a target until a few weeks previously.

“It proved impossible to establish a clear answer on whether targets had been allocated out regionally. The Home Secretary (and Glyn Williams who was appearing with her) were never provided with briefing that might have allowed them to put the correct position on the record.

“The Home Secretary was not, therefore, supported as she should have been during the hearing.”

The next day, Ms Rudd returned to the House of Commons to say Immigration Enforcement managers did use ‘local targets’ but that she had not been aware of them.

However, a leak showed Ms Rudd had been copied into a memo from an official that referred to targets in June 2017.

In her resignation later, Ms Rudd said: “Since appearing before the Select Committee, I have reviewed the advice I was given on the issue and become aware of information provided to my office which makes mention of targets.

“I should have been aware of this and I take full responsibility for the fact that I was not.”

In his report, Sir Alex singles out the then director general for immigration enforcement Hugh Ind, who has since moved to a different civil service role, for criticism.

The report said, after Ms Rudd’s appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr Ind initially repeated the line that there were currently no targets, but, when pressed, ‘was not able to bring clarity to the issues being raised’.

Concluding his report, Sir Alex said: “I was asked to make recommendations as to whether investigations into potential misconduct by specific employees should be undertaken.

“For reasons set out in the report, I do not recommend any such investigations.

“I do, however, criticise Hugh Ind for less than satisfactory performance in his role as Director General for Immigration Enforcement.

“And I would have expected Patsy Wilkinson, as a permanent secretary, and the line manager of someone who was clearly in an exposed position, to play a more proactive role.”

Ms Rudd has been approached for comment.

Related stories:

Amber Rudd resigns as Home Secretary