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Archbishop apologises for treatment of Windrush victims by Church of England

by Press Association

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued an apology to victims of the Windrush scandal for the "wickedness" of their treatment by the Church of England.

Most Rev Justin Welby told the Lords that one of the "historic failures" of the Church was the "terrible reception we gave to the Windrush generation".

After publication of a report into the scandal, he said they were very often "turned away" or given a "very weak welcome or no welcome at all".

The Archbishop said: "I've apologised and continue to do so, and see the wickedness of our actions."

An independent review of the Windrush scandal found it was "foreseeable and avoidable" with victims let down by "systemic operational failings" at the Home Office.

After a statement on the findings had been repeated in the Lords, the Archbishop welcomed the "heartfelt nature" of the Home Secretary's own apology.

"One of the historic failures of the Church of England, in many ways as bad as the 'hostile environment,' was the terrible reception we gave to the Windrush Britain generation, many of them Anglicans."

He said they were often turned away from Church of England churches or given a very weak welcome.

"As a result they went off and formed their own churches which have flourished much better than ours.

"We would have been so much stronger if we had behaved correctly."

The Archbishop urged ministers to involve black church leaders, who had been "gracious, wise and strong" in the upholding of their communities, in the process of reconciliation.

Stressing the need for "culture change" at the Home Office, the Archbishop added: "I am only too aware of how hard that is in any institution."

Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford said she had not realised the Church of England had given the Windrush generation "such an awful reception".

Lady Williams said the report highlighted that "we all need to look to ourselves to see where we have gone wrong" with its narrative of failure.

Tory former Home Office minister Lord Bates spoke of his "sense of regret for the failings" that had occurred in the department and the impact they had on the Windrush generation.

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