The Home Office has admitted to a data breach that exposed hundreds of email addresses belonging to people signed up to the Windrush compensation scheme.
In a report published by The Guardian, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes apologised for the data breach, which exposed around 500 email addresses.
The data breach occurred just one week after the compensation scheme was launched. A review of the breach has been launched and details of the incident have been referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
“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,” she said.
“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.”
The Windrush payments scheme was launched to compensate migrants who came to the United Kingdom from Commonwealth countries between 1948 and 1971. Despite having lived in the country for decades, changes to immigration law introduced by the coalition government in 2012 saw those without documentation classified as ‘illegal immigrants’.
Some were held in detention or removed from the UK. The Government was heavily criticised for its handling of the scandal, which resulted in the Home Office establishing the compensation scheme.