CamdenNewJournal

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Coroner’s court hears details of Windrush man’s job search despair

Legal team told: 'We are not involved in political shenanigans in this court'

26 July, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Dexter Bristol

A WINDRUSH citizen who lost his job because of the government’s “hostile environment” crackdown sent his mother a despairing Christmas card message weeks before he was found dead.

Dexter Bristol is believed to have been unable to find work, claim benefits or register at a new GP surgery because he did not have the right immigration documents. At a preliminary inquest hearing at Poplar Coroner’s Court on Friday, coroner William Dolman promised a “full and fearless investigation” into Mr Bristol’s death.

Mr Bristol’s legal team told Mr Dolman that “extreme stress” could have caused Mr Bristol’s death from acute heart failure outside his home in Holborn on March 31.

Barrister Una Morris said that the Christmas card sent to his mother, 76-year-old retired  NHS nurse Sentina, four months before he died, said: “This whole thing is making me bitter and hateful and nobody wants to be that way forever.”

Her legal team are demanding that the scope of the inquest fully investigates the impact of government immigration and welfare reforms. Mr Bristol could not find work because employers did not believe he was in the country legally.

Mr Bristol’s legal team demanded that the coroner call officials from the Home Office and Maximus – the company contracted by the government to assess whether the unemployed are fit to work – to give evidence.

It was during a job search for hotel work in 2016 that it was noted Mr Bristol did not have his Right To Work document.

Repeatedly, Mr Dolman questioned whether this information could help determine how Mr Dexter died and at one point said: “We are not involved in political shenanigans in this court.”

Ms Morris told the court: “We feel all these issues are interlinked … we cannot ignore the fact that this was a man whose immigration status was in question. If you are conducting a full and fearless investigation into the circumstances of how he died.”

The coroner said he would reserve his ruling on which witnesses to call.

A full inquest will take place over two days at a date yet to be set.

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