Two Windrush campaigners have claimed they were refused access to the Conservative party conference on Tuesday, leaving them “humiliated and disgusted”.
Julia Davidson, who works with Windrush families in Peterborough, and Anthony Brown, co-founder of Windrush Defenders Legal, both reportedly faced difficulties in trying to access the conference centre at Manchester Central despite paying for full accreditation.
Mr Brown told The Guardian that when he went to collect his pass he was met by one of Boris Johnson’s advisers, who allegedly told the lawyer he could only attend if he was chaperoned.
“It was like when journalists go to China and they’ve got a minder. I thought – is this for real?” Mr Brown told the newspaper.
Mr Brown said he could “guess why” he might not have been allowed in without an escort, adding: “I just think they don’t want Windrush to be an issue, that we might detract from what the conference is meant to be about.”
Ms Davidson, meanwhile, said she was allowed into the four-day event on Sunday, but turned away on Monday after the adviser said there were concerns she might protest in the venue.
She claimed that the adviser told her: “You’ve got to know about the Ts and Cs [terms and conditions] about banners, whistles, those kind of things.”
Ms Davidson insisted that she did not have any such items on her, and just wanted “to talk to people, like lots of groups do”.
The pair were eventually allowed in on Monday, but claim they were escorted by the adviser who they said introduced them to attendees of his choosing.
However, they were reportedly told they would not be permitted to re-enter on Tuesday and Wednesday despite having bought a full conference pass for £225, as well as accommodation and travel.
An email sent to Ms Davidson by the adviser, seen by The Guardian, said that she and Mr Brown had only been given entry on Monday “as day guests” because there was capacity.
“We will refund the payments you have each made for your passes,” it added. “The passes you have won’t work tomorrow or the day after.”
Reacting to the incident, the Manchester-based group Windrush Defenders tweeted: “For three days attempting to attend Tory Party conference, we find the hostile environment is in full swing.”
The Windrush scandal erupted in 2018 when British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation, despite having the right to live in the UK. Many lost homes and jobs and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.
A Conservative party spokesperson said on Tuesday: “Windrush Defenders Legal were able to attend Conservative party conference yesterday.”
The Independent has approached the Conservative Party for further comment.