Britain's top lawyer challenged in illegal immigrant row

27th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

The British government's top legal advisor came under fresh pressure Saturday over her employment of an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper, after the employee directly challenged her version of events.

London - The British government's top legal advisor came under fresh pressure Saturday over her employment of an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper, after the employee directly challenged her version of events.

Attorney General Patricia Scotland has been fined GBP 5,000 (EUR 5,500, USD 8,150) for hiring someone who had no right to work in Britain, but Prime Minister Gordon Brown has rebuffed opposition calls for her to step down.

Scotland says she did not know Loloahi Tapui, from Tonga, was here illegally and says she inspected all the necessary documentation before hiring her.

However, Tapui told the Mail on Sunday newspaper that she had never shown her employer her passport -- which would have revealed that Tapui's work visa had expired -- and was never asked to.

"The thing is I know that it's not true that I produced a passport and a letter from the Home Office saying I was entitled to work," Tapui said.

"She (Scotland) didn't ask for a passport or a letter but she has said she has seen a passport, which I did not provide."

In response, Scotland restated her position, saying she was shown "all relevant documents" including Tapui's social security details, a marriage certificate, references, a letter from the Home Office -- and a passport.

Scotland sacked Tapui on September 16 after a newspaper revealed her status.

After an investigation, the UK Border Agency found Scotland did not know Tapui was illegal, but fined her for not keeping a copy of documents she said her housekeeper had shown her to prove she was entitled to work in Britain.

However, Chris Grayling, home affairs spokesman for the main opposition Conservatives, said: "This unedifying row just underlines why Baroness Scotland's position is now completely untenable."

The row threatens to overshadow the start of annual conference of Brown's Labour party Sunday, which will fire the starting-gun for campaigning ahead of a general election due by June.

AFP/Expatica

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