Yvette Cooper: Two-hour waits at passport control 'a disgrace'


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With just three weeks until Olympics athletes beginning arriving at Heathrow, people are waiting longer than two hours to pass through immigration control – a situation branded a "disgrace" by the shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper yesterday.

A leaked memo reveals tourists from outside the European Economic Area repeatedly wait longer than the 45-minute target time to pass through passport control.

Meanwhile, European visitors are waiting longer than one hour when it should take less than 25 minutes to have their documents checked. And with a section of the M4 motorway between Heathrow and London closed – perhaps until Thursday – due to a crack in a "sensitive area" of the road yesterday, travellers face even more disruption.

Ms Cooper said many of those forced to wait in long queues were Olympic athletes arriving ahead of the opening ceremony on 27 July to acclimatise.

Home Secretary Theresa May had failed to ensure enough staff were employed at peak times, she added.

"The Home Secretary ought to be able to make sure there are proper security checks without long queues," she said. "After all there has been long enough to prepare for the Olympics. Instead, she has cut 900 Border Agency staff and these documents show there are still too few staff in place at peak times."