Immigration chiefs accused of misleading Parliament after 'devastating' report exposes UK Border Agency incompetence and inefficiency

 

Immigration chiefs were last night accused of misleading Parliament after a “devastating” report exposed a catalogue of incompetence and inefficiency at the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

Efforts to trace tens of thousands of asylum seekers were abandoned after minimal efforts to find them and despite promises to MPs that “exhaustive checks” would be carried out, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration concluded.

Last night the Commons home affairs select committee said it was summoning Rob Whiteman, the UKBA chief executive, to “check every fact and figure he has given us”.

The UKBA operation was so inept that more than 150 boxes contained letters from asylum applicants, their lawyers and MPs piled up in an office in Liverpool without even being opened. At one point the agency had accumulated a backlog of more than 100,000 letters that it had not read.

The chief inspector, John Vine, said errors led to “lengthy and distressing” delays for asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, as they waited for their cases to be heard. In some cases people qualified to remain in Britain simply because of the length of time it took for their applications to be processed.

He also raised concerns that full security checks were not carried out on applicants, raising the possibility that terror suspects could have been lost in the system.

Mr Vine said the agency was “quickly overwhelmed” as it examined 147,000 unresolved asylum applications, blaming a “lack of governance” for an “extremely disjointed and inadequately planned” operation.

He said cases were placed in an archive – meaning efforts to track people down had effectively been abandoned - without security checks being carried out and without trying to trace them through other Government departments or banks.

Mr Vine said: “This was unacceptable and at odds with the assurances given to the home affairs select committee that 124,000 cases were only archived after 'exhaustive checks' to trace the applicant had been made.“

He added: “Through the inefficiency and delay of the agency, those who would otherwise have faced removal will have accrued rights to remain in the UK.”

Senior UKBA managers received £25,000 in bonuses this year, although Mr Whiteman turned down the hand-out to which he was entitled.

Keith Vaz, the select committee chairman, urged them to give the money back and added: “This is a devastating report into the way in which the UKBA administrates the immigration system.

“It appears senior officials of the UKBA have misled the committee about facts and figures. To mislead a Committee of the House is an extremely serious matter.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The UKBA has now reviewed the cases within the controlled archive and undertaken a robust process to trace those we can find evidence are still in the UK and, where appropriate, remove them.”

He said: “We have known for some time that UKBA is a troubled organisation with a poor record of delivery. Turning the agency around will take time but we are making progress.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£13676.46 - £15864.28 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Re...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf