UK Liberty

Home Office cover-up?

Posted in accountability by ukliberty on November 14, 2007

The Telegraph (also the Times):

Miss Smith said she had a duty to act first and explain later, after leaked emails revealed that she was told in July that 5,000 illegal immigrants had been cleared to work in sensitive Whitehall security jobs.

Jacqui Smith arrrives as Downing Street: The Home Secretary is to address the House of Commons over the migrant ‘cover-up’
Ms Smith arrives at Number 10

But David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said the Home Office response had been “blunder, panic and cover-up”.

Ms Smith was forced to make a statement in the Commons after the emails revealed the problem, which saw one worker sent to guard Gordon Brown’s car, while 11 more were placed at Scotland Yard.  …

Extracts from the Home Office memos

From Ms Smith’s private secretary Mark Williams, Aug 9, 2007:

“The Home Secretary has seen your submission of today’s date … She agrees with you that this is not ready for public announcement yet.”

From Peter Edmundson of the Policing Policy and Operations Directorate, Aug 20:

“Given that the Home Office and the SIA do not currently know the full scale of these problems, Press Office continues to recommend strongly that no public announcement is made.”

“At the moment, no section of the media are aware that there are any concerns about the security industry employing illegal migrant workers. Despite the corrective action being taken, any announcement about illegal migrant workers and SIA licences would not be presented by the media as a positive story.”

From Peter Edmundson, Aug 30:

“Press Office advises that should the media discover that a Home Office NDPB has issued thousands of licences to illegal workers and that some of those workers have been employed in high-profile security jobs there will be significant criticism of the Home Office and our processes.”

The Government knew about the problem since April.

The statement in the Commons

David Davis, Shadow Home Secretary:

When the current Prime Minister became leader of the Labour party he heralded, in his words,

“a different type of politics—a more open and honest dialogue: frank about problems, candid about dilemmas, never losing touch with the concerns of people.”

Frank Dobson:

Does my right hon. Friend accept that most sensible people would expect any Home Secretary, particularly a new Home Secretary, to want to know the full facts before disclosing them?

Um, most sensible people realise any Home Secretary couldn’t run a whelk stall.

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