8 Feb 2014

Immigration minister quits over illegal cleaner

The minister who launched the ill fated “Go Home” van campaign against illegal immigration has resigned after examining his own backyard so to speak.

Mark Harper quit after discovering the cleaner he had employed for six years had no longer the right to live and work in the UK.

Pre News refresh player – this is the default player for the C4 news site – please do not delete. Ziad

In his resignation letter to the prime minister he apologised for any embarrassment caused and insisted he had complied with the law at all times.

Downing Street said there is no suggestion that Mr Harper knowingly employed an illegal immigrant.

The Tory MP for Forest Dean explained he took on a cleaner for his London flat in 2007 when he took a copy of her passport and a Home Office letter which stated she had indefinite leave to remain.

Mr Harper was leading an immigration bill through parliament which places an onus of employers and landlords to check on immigration status of staff and tenants.

‘An honourable decision’

He describes in letter that he thought it prudent to check on his cleaner, only to discover three days ago that her papers were not in order and that she did not have the right to remain in the UK.

David Cameron, in accepting his resignation, said Mr Harper had taken an honourable decision.

Mr Harper stoked controversy last year when he launched the much criticised and misleading campaign against illegal immigrants, when vans drove around certain minority communities in London with billboards saying “Go Home Or Face Arrests”.

The Home Office later abandon plans to roll it out all over the country after other ministers described it as “stupid and offensive.”


David Hanson, shadow immigration minister, said: “I understand and respect the decision Mark Harper has taken today.

“As immigration minister he has argued in parliament for landlords to be required to carry out checks on every tenant, and he is responsible for the helpline for employers to ring up to double check the immigration status of their employees.

“We have called for the landlord scheme to be piloted, and the employer helpline to be better resourced exactly because this can be complex for employers and landlords. So this information about Mark Harper’s employee does put him in a difficult position.

“He has however shown himself to be a decent man in his resignation and I wish him well for the future but perhaps once again the government need to think very carefully about how they approach this issue as its clear there are limits to the effectiveness of relying on employer and landlord checks to address illegal immigration.

Follow @simonisrael on Twitter