Rachel Okello was born in Cardiff to parents of Grenadian heritage.  She is a solicitor of over 20 years and specialises in UK immigration, nationality and deportation law.  She is currently based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and works at Rogol’s Solicitors.

Rachel was interviewed in a meeting room in her office on 21 October 2022.  In the excerpts provided below she reflects on changing immigration legislation and the impact it has had on Black British Caribbean communities in the UK.  She starts by talking about Jamaica-born mature-student Joy Gardener, who had obtained a visa to join her mother in the UK.  She overstayed and was later killed in tragically killed when immigration officers raided her home.  Okello notes that significant number of children who were left behind in the Caribbean do not understand why they cannot join their UK-based family.  Okello also notes that may do not understand ‘why when they were born British, they’re no longer British’.


Interview by Juanita Cox

Rachel Okello Interview [Excerpt 1]

KEYWORDS: Joy Gardner, immigration officers, killed, regularise, immigration

Rachel Okello Interview [Excerpt 2]

KEYWORDS: Joy Gardner, overstay, family, 1970s, 1 Jan 1983, register, children, independence, constitution, immigration

Copyright & Permissions: Rachel Okello granted copyright and performing rights in this interview to the University of London.  She agreed for the interview to be made accessible as a public reference resource for use in research, publication, education, lectures, broadcasting, podcasting and the internet. Permission to use this material beyond the Windrush Scandal website should be sought before reproduction.

TRANSCRIPTS – Rachel Okello Excerpts 1 & 2


JC:         Dr Juanita Cox (Interviewer)
RO:        Rachel Okello (Respondent)


21 October 2022.  Meeting room at Rogol’s Solicitors, Birmingham


Excerpt 1 Joy Gardner, immigration officers, killed, regularise, immigration

Excerpt 2 Joy Gardner, overstay, family, 1970s, 1 Jan 1983, register, children, independence, constitution, immigration.


[Excerpt 1 taken from 11:48 – 12:55]

RO         11:48

I don’t think people in this country understand there’s a whole sub world of people struggling to regularise their immigration status. And why I say there is a sub-world is because the first time I thought of immigration long before I qualified, I’m sure was Joy Gardner.  She was, let’s just say killed and she died as a result of contact with immigration officers. So they did kill her one way or another. But but I’m not sure how it… I don’t think anybody ever was… I’m not sure the legal, how it ended up legally. But I remember that. I remember that.

Excerpt 2 taken from 14:47 – 17:31

JC          14:47

And I think it’d be interesting just to, if you can talk maybe about other cases that were similar to Joy Gardeners, because my understanding was that her mother had British citizenship status but she didn’t and she had come here on a visa, and overstayed. And I think one of the things that maybe people aren’t aware of is the difficulty that members of families have in regularising their status and becoming British, even though they’ve got a parent who’s already British.

RO         15:21

Yes, because the law provides what the law provides for and the problem, the real problem is, that’s like my parents, like I just described, they came from the Caribbean in the 70s. And they sent for – the word was just send for – because it was simple thing to do. You send for your children and over they came. And that could be up until a point. So by the time now, we got to 31st of December or 1st January 1982 when everybody had to regularise their status, 1st of January 1983, when everybody had to regularise their status, become British, register, you couldn’t, you could no longer just send for your children. You had to go through a whole immigration process. And so I’m not sure if her mother was British, but it wouldn’t have mattered because – and it’s a big problem that I think people from the Caribbean have, they’ve got two things, two things which worry them. One is they can’t understand how their family members are here and they can’t join them. And two, they can’t understand why when they were born British, they’re no longer British. Why that citizenship status has been taken from them. And that’s to do with the agreement around Independence and the Constitutions of the Caribbean changing around independence, which is too technical for most people to even understand. So even though Joy Gardener’s mother may or may not have been British when she came here she had overstayed and had not regularised her status. Now, I now come across so many people who overstay and the Home Office, I don’t think behave in that way at all. I mean, they do raid people’s homes, but I don’t think they would have wrapped somebody up in that way. I think it was just overly vilifying during that time. But yeah, there’s a big issue between – and why I talked about my family was that supposing my parents had left one of my sisters in the Caribbean, and then decided, Oh, I think we’ll bring her over, you wouldn’t be able to anymore, it’s changed. And I think that’s where people in the Caribbean are having a big problem coming to terms with that it’s changed.

Share This