Family of Windrush migrant quit inquest amid Home Office row

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The family of a Windrush migrant who was trying to prove his British citizenship when he died have walked out of his inquest.

Relatives of Dexter Bristol, who collapsed in the street and died while caught up in the immigration scandal, had wanted to make submissions to the court about the role Home Office policy might have played in his death.

But coroner Dr William Dolman ruled that the Home Office should not be an interested party in the inquest because its policy was not relevant to the immediate circumstances of the 57-year-old’s death.

After unsuccessfully applying for an adjournment at St Pancras Coroner’s Court for a judicial review, Mr Bristol’s mother, Sentina Bristol, said the family was “disappointed” and fighting for justice.

Windrush generation immigration controversy
Dexter Bristol’s mother, Sentina Bristol, issues a statement outside St Pancras Coroner’s Court after walking out of his inquest (Nick Ansell/PA)

She added that the situation has caused “a lot of stress” and said: “It’s been going on for the past two years and it’s all to do with immigration most of the time.”

Before the family asked the court to rise so they could withdraw, there were heated exchanges between Dr Dolman and the Bristol family’s lawyer.

Una Morris repeatedly tried to make submissions to the court about the Home Office.

But Dr Dolman accused her of “trying to tell me how to run my court” and repeatedly ordered her to sit down.

He abruptly called a break after the heated exchange between the two of them.

Dr Dolman later apologised to Ms Morris and Mr Bristol’s family, saying: “I didn’t mean any discourtesy at all.”

Ms Morris responded: “My concern isn’t for myself as much as the impact on the family, the family are deeply upset at the way you spoke to me.”

In ruling that the Home Office should not be an interested party, Dr Dolman said it is “absolutely clear that he was under some sort of distress or pressure” but that this did not come solely from his immigration status.

Dexter Bristol
Dexter Bristol (PA)

He had not visited his GP for more than a year and believed he could not change surgeries unless he could prove his immigration status.

He also could not get a job because he did not have documents proving his right to work.

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

Talking about the coroner’s exchanges with her lawyer, Mrs Bristol said: “Although he wasn’t speaking direct to me, he was very rude.”

She described her son as “very quiet” and said he “never got into any arguments with anyone and was very bright at school”.

The inquest continues.

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