Immigration Minister resigns for employing an illegal immigrant

Immigration Minister resigns for employing an illegal immigrant

16:04 PM, 10th February 2014, About 8 years ago 25

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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


by Gary Nock

18:02 PM, 10th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Whilst I always do comprehensive tenant checks and ask for NI Numbers cards, and passport details when I am dealing with Polish, Czech, Greek, Lithuanian, etc etc do I now have to ask for letters saying they can remain in the UK, and then check its not a forgery? I turned down an overseas tenant today as he could not supply an NI number but was a mature student with income but with no letter confirming his immigration status.

So is a tenant check enough? And to what extent do I go?

by Romain Garcin

18:12 PM, 10th February 2014, About 8 years ago

On the one hand, overseas students, or more generally anyone who has never worked in the UK will not have a NI number.
On the other hand, once a person has been allocated a NI number she kepts it for life.

Bottom line is that NI numbers are irrelevant in relation to immigration status verification.

by Gary Nock

18:25 PM, 10th February 2014, About 8 years ago

So how do we ensure we do not drop in the sticky stuff then?

by Ed Atkinson

19:33 PM, 10th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Nock" at "10/02/2014 - 18:25":

Don't worry - wait for the law to be finalised and it's implementation to be explained.

It will be like Deposit Protection, you'll be told what to do and what your options are, and you'll be given months of warning. You'd have to be pretty negligent to avoid the advice. As you are obviously on top of property matters (else you wouldn't be here posting on Property118), there is no way you'll be caught out..

by Mike T

20:33 PM, 10th February 2014, About 8 years ago

I have just received a tenancy application from a young lady in her thirties who is polish. Do I need to check if she is 'legal' and if so what do I need to enquire about her ?

by Mark Alexander

21:41 PM, 10th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mike Thorogood" at "10/02/2014 - 20:33":

If she has a Polish passport she is legal 🙂

by Barbara Thorning

22:50 PM, 10th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Shame. Couldn't happen to a nicer hypocrite.....

by Jeremy Smith

23:21 PM, 10th February 2014, About 8 years ago

I was thinking:
"I'm ok, I've never taken any non-British tenants anyway.
But now I come to think of it, I've have New Zealanders, White South Africans, and I still have someone from America.

How are we supposed to know from which countries we require people to have a visa/work permit and from which countries we don't need anything ?
- Does an American need a work permit, for instance ?

- They could show me their passport - Great! - They wouldn't have gotten into the country without that - But who would need a work permit ?

by Mark Alexander

8:04 AM, 11th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jeremy Smith" at "10/02/2014 - 23:21":

All will become clear, of that I'm sure.

If the government has any sense they will use this as an opportunity to build a database of landlords and tenants by creating an online Immigration Checking Tool. That's certainly what I would do 🙂

For example:-

Q1) Tenants full name

Q2) Tenants passport number

Q3) Tenants passport country of issue

If the passport is issued by an EU country you could get approval at this point. This would actually be very useful for landlords as the systems could easily be linked to those of border control. Therefore, if the person is on a "wanted" list it could flag to the landlord to report that person. The systems should also be able to cross reference whether a person has rights to be in the UK and if temporary to advise when those rights expire.

By registering the landlord to use the system the authorities would also be able to send subsequent alerts to landlords too. If we had access to the Border Control API we could probably have this programmed for them in a week 🙂

The very same system could also be used to upload and track Gas Safety Certificates, EPC, HMO licences, tenancy deposit registration, data protection licences etc.

Oh how I would love to get my teeth into that project. Here lies the perfect opportunity to build a nationwide database of landlords and tenants and to create an automated intelligence system.

by Gary Nock

8:11 AM, 11th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Mark I share your sentiments. Given Givernment's record in IT then unless Property 118 did it the cost would be in the millions and then it would be scrapped. And could you trust the Immigration authorities to input the right information. On their own admission they do not know who is in the country illegally or not. So what chance do us Landlords have?

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