British border chief quits over security row

8th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's border chief on Tuesday said he would lodge a claim for constructive dismissal against the government after quitting the post in a row over claims he relaxed passport checks without authorisation.

Brodie Clark, the outgoing head of the UK Border Agency, launched a furious attack against interior minister Theresa May, who earlier blamed him for the lapse during a parliamentary hearing.

Clark denied "improperly" extending a pilot scheme which the government introduced to help ease border queues.

"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," Clark said in a statement.

"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."

A claim of constructive dismissal generally opens the door for legal action against the employer.

May also told the committee she would not be resigning, despite admitting to lawmakers on Monday that she did not know how many people had been let into the country without proper passport checks.

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

The Home Secretary explained 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."

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 against visitors from outside Europe.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article