8 Nov 2011

UK Border Force boss resigns with attack on May

UK Border Force chief Brodie Clark resigns but denies “improperly” relaxing border checks, accusing the Home Secretary Theresa May of making his position “untenable” for “political convenience.”

Brodie Clark

In a statement Brodie Clark said: “I am anxious to take part in any independent inquiry into matters relating to UK Border Agency but my position at UKBA had been made untenable because of the statements made in the House of Commons by the Home Secretary Theresa May.

“Those statements are wrong and were made without the benefit of hearing my response to formal allegations.

“With the home secretary announcing and repeating her view that I am at fault, I cannot see how any process conducted by the Home Office or under its auspices, can be fair and balanced.”

He also said he would be lodging a claim for constructive dismissal “in the light of the behaviour of the Home Office and comments made to Parliament by the Home Secretary”.

Home Secretary Theresa May has insisted she will not resign over the issue, and earlier told MPs Mr Clark had acted without “ministerial approval” to reduce queues at airports.

Mrs May told the Home Affairs Committee that she had rejected proposals from Mr Clark in favour of a more limited pilot scheme, saying “there were certain things that were suggested that I was not prepared to accept”.

“I take full responsibility for my decisions and actions related to the pilot, but Brodie Clark must take responsibility for his actions,” she added.

Read more: Numbers who entered UK in Border chaos 'unknown'

But in his statement tonight Mr Clark insisted: “The home decretary suggests that I added additional measures, improperly, to the trial of our risk-based controls. I did not. Those measures have been in place since 2008/09.

“The home secretary also implies that I relaxed the controls in favour of queue management. I did not. Despite pressure to reduce queues, including from ministers, I can never be accused of compromising security for convenience.

“This summer saw queues of over three hours (non EU) on a regular basis at Heathrow and I never once contemplated cutting our essential controls to ease the flow.

My employer has disregarded my right to reply in favour of political convenience. Brodie Clark

“On the trials, I have pressed since December 2010 to progress these and I was pleased when the home secretary agreed to the pilot arrangements.

“The evidence to support them is substantial and the early findings are encouraging. I would do nothing to jeopardise them and I firmly believe that a more fully risk-based way of operating will offer far greater protection to the United Kingdom.”

He went on: “I deeply regret having to make this statement. I am saddened that my career should end in such a way after 40 years of dedicated service. My employer has disregarded my right to reply in favour of political convenience.”

Mr Clark said he had been advised not to make any further comment until he appears before the Home Affairs Committee – which earlier called him to give evidence.

Read more: Gary Gibbon on the email revealing Border Agency 'chaos'