09 November 2011

PM says UKBA handling of UK visa checks downgrade ‘unacceptable’

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As the blame game over the downgrade of immigration security checks at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) continues, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has weighed into the debate, criticising the UKBA for overstepping ministerial order.

UK visa

The PM has defended the scaling back of immigration checks, but castigated the UKBA for going beyond instructions.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has come to the aid of his Home Secretary Theresa May, defending her role in the relaxation of security and UK visa checks at UK points of entry and placing blame for a decrease in security at the feet of the UKBA.

Appearing before the Home Affairs select committee yesterday, the Prime Minister said the original pilot program to relax blanket immigration checks and introduce a more targeted approach - ordered by the Home Office in July - was "in some ways successful", but that "activity going on by the UK Border Agency was not acceptable".

Theresa May told the same select committee meeting that the order to relax immigration checks was a "limited" policy and an "operational matter" that did not pose any threat to national security.

Ms May said that the UKBA went beyond ministerial instruction in implementing the downgrade and that UK Border Force boss Brodie Clark - who was dismissed from his position last week - must take responsibility for the "unauthorised actions".

Meanwhile UKBA Chief Executive Rob Whiteman has released a statement explaining Mr Clark's dismissal.

"Brodie Clark admitted to me on 2 November that on a number of occasions this year he authorised his staff to go further than Ministerial instruction," he said.

"I therefore suspended him from his duties".

Mr Whiteman channeled the Prime Minister, arguing the initial policy idea was right but that the implementation by his agency went too far.

"In my opinion it was right for officials to have recommended the pilot so that we focus attention on higher risks to our border, but it is unacceptable that one of my senior officials went further than was approved," he said.

UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their Life in the UK test.

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