Britain 'will never know' how many avoided border check

8th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

British interior minister Theresa May on Monday admitted she did not know how many people had been let into the country without proper passport checks after she claimed controls were eased without her consent.

Border chief Brodie Clark and two other officials have been suspended after checks aimed at stopping suspected terrorists, illegal immigrants and fraudsters from entering the country were reportedly relaxed.

"As a result of these unauthorised actions, we will never know how many people entered the country who should have been prevented from doing so after being flagged by the warnings index," May told lawmakers in a statement Monday.

The Home Secretary added that she had approved a pilot scheme of "intelligence-led checks on higher-risk" passengers, but that Clark had "authorised the wider relaxation of border controls without ministerial sanction".

May's Conservative party has promised a tough stance on immigration, but despite the setback, party leader and Prime Minister David Cameron said May had his "full confidence."

Opposition interior spokeswoman Yvette Cooper accused May of giving the "green light for weaker controls".

"The truth is that instead of strengthening the checks year on year... this home secretary decided to water them down as official government policy," said the Labour lawmaker.

"She has blamed officials for relaxing the checks further than she intended. But she gave the green light for weaker controls.

"Thousands of people have entered without proper checks and without the home secretary having a clue what was going on," she added.

Under the government's pilot scheme launched in July, border guards were given instructions to ease controls on European children travelling with their parents or school.

However, May accused border guards of overstepping their remit by abandoning "on a regular basis" biometric and warnings index checks.

© 2011 AFP

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