Sunday, 22 July 2018

Dexter Bristol died under 'extreme stress' trying to prove his British citizenship

The Government's 'racist and xenophobic' policies may have led to the death of a Windrush migrant who was trying to prove his British citizenship, a lawyer representing his family has said.

Una Morris told a pre-inquest review that Dexter Bristol was under 'extreme stress' having been 'subjected to the hostile environment'.

Mr Bristol collapsed in the street and died aged 57 while caught up in the immigration scandal that saw people deported, detained or denied access to benefits and healthcare because they could not prove they were in the country legally.

Poplar Coroner's Court in east London heard he had not visited his GP since August 2016 because he thought he was 'racist' and believed he could not change surgeries unless he could prove his immigration status.

The coroner, Dr William Dolman, said on Friday Mr Bristol died of natural causes on March 31 having suffered acute heart failure.
Ms Morris said: 'At the time of Dexter's death, he was subjected to the hostile environment and subjected to racist and xenophobic policies which impacted on how he was feeling - his identity, his access to services, and ultimately it may be that this inquest could conclude these things caused or contributed to Dexter's death.'

The court heard Mr Bristol last visited his GP in August 2016 and by October that year he could not get a job because he did not have documents proving his right to work.

A Christmas card sent to his retired NHS nurse mother, Sentina, that year read: 'This whole thing is making me bitter and hateful and nobody wants to be that way for ever.'
A statement from Mr Bristol's immigration lawyer, Jacqueline McKenzie, said he often complained of being unwell when he visited her office in February and March.

She said she advised him to see his GP but Mr Bristol said he was 'racist'.

'When I suggested he find a new doctor, he said he couldn't apply to change surgeries unless he could prove his immigration status,' the statement said.

'I saw Dexter getting more and more upset and stressed by the ongoing process to prove he was a British citizen.

'He told me he had started to lose hope of ever being able to prove his status.'

Ms Morris, representing Mr Bristol's mother and sister, June, asked the coroner for access to Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions documents relating to him.

When he questioned their relevance to his role, she said: 'The point is if somebody is under extreme stress that can have an impact on their health.'

The coroner reserved his ruling on the scope of the inquiry but said the full inquest would take place over two days at a date to be set.

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Bristol said: 'The coroner has said he will conduct a full and fearless investigation and as Dexter's mother I expect this will include looking into the Home Office Windrush policies.'

She has previously called for Theresa May's resignation, arguing she created the 'hostile environment' for immigrants.

Mrs Bristol brought her son to the UK on her British subject passport in 1968.

Mr Bristol, who lived in Camden, north London, died shortly before a letter arrived suggesting a breakthrough in his case.

Recent restrictions in immigration law require paperwork proof of near-continuous residence in the country.

But many of those who arrived in the Windrush era struggled to prove they are here legally because they lack these records, having never applied for British citizenship or passports.

Thousands of landing card slips recording the arrival of immigrants from that generation were destroyed in 2009 by the Home Office.

No comments:

Post a Comment