Published on 7 Nov 2011

Email reveals Border Agency ‘chaos’ at Heathrow

This is an email from a senior manager at the UKBA to all immigration staff at Heathrow Terminal 5, on 29 July, not long after Theresa May made the 22 July decision to relax some controls at border checks.

What seems most interesting is the paragraph that starts in bold. It refers to how border staff “are no longer able to suspend Secure ID except in the most excpetional circumstances. The Home Secretary has not given us that flexibility. Suspension of Secure ID must therefore stop now.”

So there were light-touch relaxations in checks happening at Heathrow before Theresa May brought in her own measures about no checking children in school parties etc. And you might think from the wording of this that someone in the Home Office has cottoned on to this and stamped on it. But I didn’t hear mention of it in the statement in the Commons today.

Paul O’Connor of the Public and Commercial Services Union told us it was indicative of the “chaos” in the Border Agency and that his members were telling him that the suspension of Secure ID checks carried on regardless after that email.

David Cameron decided to stay sat next to Theresa May for her statement to the Commons on border security. He managed the Nancy Reagan admiring look, nodded periodically and even waved Labour to pipe down. It was a gesture of support that Liam Fox didn’t get and a sign of how confident Mr Cameron is that Theresa May is in the clear on this one.

Before that, in his statement on the G20, David Cameron said he had a lot of sympathy with the “intellectual coherence” of the argument (from Labour MP Graham Stringer) that countries who can’t hack it should now leave the euro. When Tory MP Peter Bone put the same idea to him the PM said he learnt from the UK’s exit from the ERM (when he was working for Norman Lamont) that countries with different economies that need different interest rates should not be lashed together.

His argument for the government’s position that it supports existing euro members staying inside the eurozone was that it was what those countries wanted. I can’t help feeling those arguments need a little refinement before he next airs them.

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6 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:

    Gary,

    That Treezer May…..innit a lark ey! :-)

    As for the Eurozone mularkey – how come nobody has asked who sets the interest rates charged to borrowing nations, and on what basis? Which individuals are responsible? Who is making profit from the interest rates? Why are you media people afraid to go right to the root of it all?

    As for Cameron’s “arguments”…..I’ve seen more intellectuality in a fourth form essay.

    This is a government run by a gang of Del Boys and Girls. What a gang of nincompoops, even by Tory standards.

  2. Saltaire Sam says:

    This blog and so much that appears in Factcheck serve to underline the enomous disconnect between what the government says and what it is doing.

    The only thing you can be sure of when Cameron, Osborne, Gove, Lansley and now May open their mouth (not to forget Pickles when he’s not doing it just to eat) is that it is not the whole truth but much more likely a misleading truth designed to cover something up.

  3. no name says:

    Not checking the non EU members for terrorism etc. is extremely serious. It must be construed as a threat to national security.

    Was it a political move as these procedures were established by the last government?

    This government was elected on a strong restrictive immigration policy.

    Or was it just short cuts to avoid long queues and perhaps cut the work load of officials. These checks must be arduous and time consuming. Do I need to say more?

    I do not fully understand the implications of EU checks but it would seem apparent that there are some measures that need to be investigated. Free movement within the EU is policy.But if checks do not restrict entry of “undesirables” it would not seem wise.I will need to research before making further comment.

    If those officials were guilty of threatening national security by their actions then I presume the punishments will be very severe.

  4. Andrew Dundas says:

    On your Euro section:
    Marrying the sunny cultures of Mediterranean States with the severe wintry attitudes of the northerners was always going to be difficult.
    Shouldn’t States that didn’t meet the Maastricht criteria that we agreed to, have either been excluded or put under the sort of supervision the IMF reserves for its errant debtors?
    If it was too difficult to exclude Italy and Greece, shouldn’t the northern States have unfrozen their cultures a bit to embrace more relaxed southern ways?
    Surely in all ‘marriages’ of the Euro sort, some ‘give’ is needed as well as ‘take’.

  5. Lemog says:

    As anyone who has had the misfortune to arrive at Heathrow in the summer knows, getting through immigration is a nightmare. I arrived back on a September afternoon, only three of the border posts were staffed, none of the biometric exits were open and there were literally hundreds of people waiting to get through. It was an absolute shambles and made me ashamed to be British. Forget not checking people, just put more staff on duty and you can process more people faster. This not checking is purely so that the Condems can say that cutting posts won`t impact on the service people receive from the UKBA. Theresa May is as guilty as hell of what went on in the Summer at Heathrow but it won`t be her that pays the price. This current Tory led administration is in danger of achieving what most people thought impossible, making the previous Labour administration appear honest and trustworthy

  6. Andrew Dundas says:

    Gary, Not many people know this: well over 110 million travellers enter the UK each year. Most of them through Heathrow.
    Without a fully high-speed IT system, they’d always be massive queues when big jets arrive in bunches.
    Our ‘brave’ coalition cancelled that IT project along with ID cards.
    That’s how our brave government has got us into this mess!

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