Immigration Minister resigns for employing an illegal immigrant

by Property 118

4 years ago

Immigration Minister resigns for employing an illegal immigrant

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Immigration Minister resigns for employing an illegal immigrant

Mark Harper the Immigration Minister who took the Immigration Bill through Parliament in autumn 2013 has resigned for continuing to employ his cleaner when she no longer had a right to reside in the country.

The Immigration Bill which was hotly debated on Property118 requires Landlords to carry out reasonable checks and take copies of documents proving tenants have the right to reside in the UK. The Government said Landlords were not required to be experts or spot anything other than an obvious forgery.

However the Government’s own Minister has fallen foul of the very checks it is requiring Landlords to carry out. To be fair Mr Harper did initially carry out reasonable checks when his cleaner was initially employed, and it is doubtful any action would be taken against an employer or Landlord in these circumstances, but it does raise the question if Landlords have the required expertise to help police immigration when Mr Harper himself has failed.

Mark Harper’s resignation letter to the PM

“Dear Prime Minister

In April 2007 I took on a cleaner for my London flat. In doing so, I was very mindful of my legal and financial obligations and undertook a number of checks beforehand. This included consideration of the HMRC tests as to whether the cleaner was performing her work under a contract for services on a self-employed basis which I concluded she was. However, even though there was no legal requirement for me to check her right to work in the UK, I felt that it was appropriate to do so. I therefore took a copy of her passport to verify her identity and also a copy of a Home Office letter, dated 26 January 2006, which stated that she had leave to remain indefinitely in the United Kingdom, including the right to work and engage in a business.

I considered the issue again when you appointed me as a Minister in the Cabinet Office in May 2010 and concluded that as I had performed a right to work check in 2007 and that my cleaner had indefinite leave to remain in the UK no further check was necessary. When you then appointed me as Immigration Minister in September 2012 I went through a similar consideration process and once again concluded that no further check was necessary. In retrospect, I should have checked more thoroughly.

As I took the Immigration Bill through Parliament in autumn 2013 I talked a lot about these matters in the context both of employers and landlords. What we do, and will, require of both is that they carry out reasonable checks and take copies of documents. We do not require them to be experts or spot anything other than an obvious forgery. Given this focus on these matters, I thought it prudent to check that all my documents were in order for my cleaner. I undertook an extensive search to locate the copies of documents I had taken but unfortunately I was unable to locate them.

As a result, in the week commencing 20 January 2014 I asked my cleaner for further copies of these documents which she provided on 4 February. On 5 February, I asked my private office to check the details with immigration officials to confirm that all was in order. I was informed on the morning of 6 February that my cleaner did not in fact have indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. I immediately notified the Home Secretary and my Permanent Secretary. This is now a matter for Immigration Enforcement.

Although I complied with the law at all times, I consider that as Immigration Minister, who is taking legislation through Parliament which will toughen up our immigration laws, I should hold myself to a higher standard than expected of others. I have also considered the impact on my Parliamentary colleagues, the Government and you. I have always believed that politics is a team game, not an individual sport. Under the circumstances, I have therefore decided that the right course is for me to return to the Backbenches. I am sorry for any embarrassment caused.

I am grateful for the opportunities you have given me since you became Leader of the Conservative Party, first in Opposition and then in Government. I will continue to support you as Prime Minister, the Conservative Party and this Government in whatever way I can from the backbenches. I will also continue to serve my constituents in the Forest of Dean to the best of my ability.

Yours ever,

MarkImmigration Minister resigns

Comments

Neil Patterson

4 years ago

Embarrassing and a bit of a precedent set for any Landlord who now gets this wrong!

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Oops!

I wonder whether Mr Harper will now decide to lobby against the very legislation he drove through parliament.

What will happen next, will we see MP's resigning if their tenants turn out to be illegally residing in the UK? For what I can gather a significant percentage of our 650 MP's are landlords themselves if the declarations of interest are anything to go by in parliamentary debates discussing anything landlord orientated.

It always was a silly law in my opinion.
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Neil Patterson

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "10/02/2014 - 16:16":

On a practical level it is probably a good thing to check your prospective new tenant is not an illegal immigrant to save it all going wrong later.

DC

4 years ago

He appears to have been honest about all of this and probably didn't need to resign over it but now that we all know how difficult this silly idea is PLEASE drop the idea immediately!

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "DC " at "10/02/2014 - 16:28":

How do we know he is being honest?

By his own admission he doesn't have any paperwork to prove his story!

Would we be assumed innocent under the legislation that Mr Harper has pushed through if we said we had checked immigration status but had no documentary evidence to prove it?
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Nancy Gaskin

4 years ago

I wonder where illegal people are to live if Landlords cannot take them as tenants - surely we will have more "sheds" being let. when I signed up to be a landlord I did not expect that I would become an unpaid lacky for Border Control. If they did their job properly we would not have to do theirs. Some unscruplous landlord could let to illegals taking their deposits and advance rent and then inform Immigration. Then do the same all over again.
It is not in the interest of law abiding citizens to have illegals on the streets, in arches, sheds or squats.
I have alway taken copies of Passports, Driving Licences etc as proof of ID so I know the correct name of the tenant I am putting in my property. But I did not sign up to be an Immigration Officer

Neil Patterson

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "10/02/2014 - 16:35":

The old management phrase is: "If it isn't written down it didn't happen".

Ed Atkinson

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "10/02/2014 - 16:16":

I'm a member of the Labour Party, and so not a Conservative supporter, but I do have a reasonably positive view of politicians. I feel for Mark Harper, his letter has dignity and I wish him well.

Also, I have no problem with doing a few simple checks on prospective tenants so long as there are systems to support me (such as incorporating it in the NLA Tenant Check) and all tenants know that reputable landlords will be following the law and doing the checks.

I would hope that this will help calm down the anti-immigration debate and so will help this and future governments implement fair policies to welcome assylum seekers and other legitimate immigrants.

DC

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "10/02/2014 - 16:35":

Er, that's why I said, "He APPEARS to have been honest about all of this..."

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "DC " at "10/02/2014 - 16:53":

Yes I see!

And in response to Ed, I have always been a Conservative supporter LOL
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