Reid under fire: Ministers knew of crime debacle

The pressure on John Reid over the criminal records fiasco intensified amid claims that two of his junior ministers had been alerted to the crisis.

The Home Secretary has repeatedly denied that any ministers knew of the 27,500 case files - including details of 540 serious offenders such as murderers, rapists and paedophiles - that stacked up in the Home Office without being entered on the police national computer.

Last night, the Tories said that the position of two ministers was untenable after it emerged that the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) had written to the Home Office in the autumn telling it about the files listing crimes committed by Britons abroad.

According to ITN, the letter concluded: "I recognise you may feel this is something the Home Secretary might want to be briefed about, given the obvious links to foreign national prisoners."

The letter was sent to Tony McNulty, the Police minister, in October and acknowledged by Joan Ryan, the junior minister for immigration, last month. It is understood to have outlined the problems faced in processing information about foreign convictions, but did not mention the backlog. A senior Home Office source dismissed ITN's interpretation of the letter last night as "bullshit".

Ms Ryan said on Tuesday: "It's the case that we knew nothing of this. As far as we are aware, no ministers knew of this until lunchtime today." And Mr Reid, making an emergency statement to MPs yesterday, assured the Commons he knew nothing about the backlog.

David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, seized on ITN's claims, saying: "If this is true, the position of two ministers is untenable. We need to see the full copy of this letter. Acpo should now publish, including all replies. "

The Home Secretary faced further embarrassment after it emerged the Home Office also turned down a plea from police for help in tackling the criminal records backlog in October. He admitted there had been "fundamental flaws" in the system for processing information about Britons who had committed crimes abroad.

Mr Reid told the Commons he had ordered an urgent inquiry and said he had told police chiefs to accelerate the processing of the files. But Acpo said it had asked for extra cash to deal with the backlog in October.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, said: "John Reid is fast resembling Manuel from Fawlty Towers, who made a habit of declaring, 'I know nothing'. This mixture of ignorance and incompetence would be comic if it did not jeopardise public safety in the way that it has. "

Mr Reid told MPs that 280 of the 540 serious criminals were unaccounted for as ministers had received scant details from the countries where the crimes took place. He said the Criminal Records Bureau would now check if any offenders had mistakenly been given the all-clear to work with children or vulnerable adults.

He told the Commons: "The process for handling these notifications when they arrived in the UK was fragmented and piecemeal. There were, therefore, fundamental flaws in the sending of information and receipt of information." Mr Reid said the backlog of less serious offenders - about 27,000 - should be processed within three months.

The blame game

* In May, the Home Secretary, John Reid, described his department as " dysfunctional in the sense it doesn't work" and its immigration service as "not fit for purpose".

* Beverley Hughes, the Immigration minister, blamed an "excess of zeal" by managers anxious to clear a backlog for waiving checks on residency applications from citizens of eastern European countries about to join the EU.

* Nick Brown, the Agriculture minister, asked in March 2002 why he had abandoned plans to vaccinate cattle, with the result that thousands died from foot and mouth, said it was the fault of slaughtermen.

Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice