Security chief leaves job after workers hired without clearance

The chief executive of the body in charge of handing licences to security guards and club bouncers has lost his job after some of his employees were found to be working without proper security clearance.

The Security Industry Authority [SIA] had to march 38 agency workers off its property after a government investigation discovered they did not have the correct papers.

Michael Wilson will leave his post next week as a result of the error, which is the third scandal to hit the body during his year in charge.

Yesterday morning, 32 of the workers had received the necessary security clearance, while six were still awaiting full clearance.

Government guidelines dictate that no workers should be allowed to work for the authority without receiving proper security clearance.

"We have become aware of some failings in the SIA's compliance with Home Office requirements for security clearance for SIA employees," junior Home Office minister Alan Campbell told the Commons.

"Some agency workers had not received appropriate security clearance before commencing employment with the SIA. As soon as the Home Office became aware of the issue, it asked the SIA to take immediate action."

It is the second time the authority has been found to be failing security vetting procedures. Last year, it wrongly handed licences to thousands of illegal immigrants.

Some ended up working as security guards at the Home Office, while another was given the job of guarding the Prime Minister's car.

The National Audit Office also criticised the authority last month for running £17m over budget.

The authority confirmed that Mr Wilson, who has been in the job for a year, would be leaving. The chairwoman, Ruth Henig, said: "Mike, the SIA Board and I came to the mutual agreement that Mike would leave the SIA next week. The Board and I are grateful to him for all his hard work and dedication to the development of the SIA in the past year, and we wish him well."

The Tories criticised the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, for not taking responsibility for the authority's failings. "Yet again an official takes responsibility while the minister ducks it," said Dominic Grieve, the shadow Home Secretary.