15 November 2011

Documents reveal private jets not subjected to UK visa checks

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The UK Border Agency scandal continues as new leaked emails reveal private jet passengers have been allowed to bypass UK visa and immigration security checks.

UK visa

Criticism of the Home Secretary has intensified as new documents reveal passengers on private flights have been exempt from UK visa and security checks.

Home Secretary Theresa May has come under increasing pressure following the release of more damaging documents yesterday which point to further downgrades of border security and UK visa checks under the Coalition Government.

The documents released by the Labour opposition yesterday indicate that - acting on orders from the Home Office - UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff did not perform immigration and security checks on private charter passengers to the UK from March 2 2011.

There are as many as 90,000 private flights to the UK each year, which carry and average of 2 to 3 passengers each.

The documents quote an unnamed immigration and customs official who claims to have raised concerns with the security risks implicit in the policy.

"Staff continue to feel uneasy about an instruction that is at odds with national policy and is creating an unnecessary gap in border security which, if exploited by the unscrupulous, could bring the Agency (UKBA) into disrepute," the source said.

The source revealed that his concerns were dismissed and that his superior told him the "no checks policy" for private passengers was part of a "new national strategy".

The opposition's Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the new revelation shows the Government had lost control of the UK's borders.

"This is startling new information about the scale of the borders fiasco," she said.

"Last week the Home Secretary told us no one had been waived through without checks.

"But these documents show passengers on private flights weren't even seen."

The Shadow Minister's comments follow similar criticism over the Home Office's downgrade of security checks for European citizens on mainstream commercial flights from July to October this year.

The UKBA has refuted the allegation, saying in a statement that:

"It is not true that we don’t carry out ­passport and warnings checks on private flight passengers and will deploy officers to airfields where we have concerns."

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

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