Theresa May is under renewed pressure over her handling of the immigration system after a damning report revealed that a killer was among a number foreign nationals whose British passport applications were approved without proper criminal record checks.
Among others granted citizenship were people who had entered the country illegally, were working illegally or had a history of absconding.
The new blow to the Home Secretary’s reputation on immigration was delivered by John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.
Mr Vine warned that officials had failed to conduct “good character” checks on applicants and had approved the issue of passports to people with “very poor immigration histories”.
During their scrutiny earlier this year of 179 applications, inspectors uncovered the case of a person who admitted stabbing someone to death in their home country.
Missing details on a database, combined with the practice of not checking paper files, meant the official examining the application approved the killer’s citizenship.
Mr Vine said staff relied almost entirely on automated checks against the police national computer and immigration databases to confirm the “good character” of potential citizens, such as confirming that they had no criminal record, a history of fraud or large unpaid debts.
10 things immigration has done for Britain
10 things immigration has done for Britain
1/10 The Mini
The 1959 classic, that is, perhaps our greatest piece of industrial design, a miracle of packaging and revolution in motoring. Its genius designer was Sir Alec Issigonis, who was an asylum seeker. His family, Greek, fled Smyrna when Turks invaded this borderland in around 1920, and he wound up studying engineering at Battersea Polytechnic. He went on to create that most English of motor cars, the Morris Minor, as well as the Austin-Morris 1100, all much loved products of his fertile imagination.
2/10 Marks and Spencer
Once upon a time there was no M&S in Britain, difficult as that may be to believe. We have one Michael Marks to thank for our most famous retailer, and he was a refugee from Belarus, arriving in England in about 1882, and soon after set off to flog stuff around Yorkshire. He eventually teamed with Thomas Spencer to create the vast business we know today.
And many other TV shows created, funded and otherwise produced by that largest of larger-than-life characters, Lew Grade (also a world class tap dancer). The man who dominated commercial television gave us memorable entertainment such as The Prisoner, the Saint and brought the Muppets to Britain (a sort of fuzzy felt wave of immigration), as well as puppet shows where you could see the strings. All this from a penniless Jew from Ukraine, born Lev Winogradsky, who escaped the pogroms in Ukraine with his family in the 1890s. His nephew Michael Grade has also done his bit for British television.
4/10 The House of Windsor
Or the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha until George V prudently rebranded the family during the First World War. Well, our royals are a pretty German bunch, as well as having various types of French and other alien blue blood coursing around their veins. ‘Twas ever thus. There was William the Conqueror, Norman French, who certainly broke the immigration rules; William of Orange, a direct import from Holland; the Hanoverian King Georges, the first barely able to speak English; Queen Victoria, who married a German, Edward VII, who couldn’t stay faithful to his wife, a Danish princess; George V wed another German princess; Edward VIII married an American (though she hardly visited England and prompted his emigration and exile); and the Queen is married to man born in Corfu. The embodiment of the British nation, to many, but one thinks of them as quite multicultural really.
5/10 I Vow To Thee My Country
Our most patriotic hymn was the product of a man named Gustav Holst (pictured), born in Cheltenham, but of varied Swedish, Latvian and German ancestry, who adapted part of his suite The Planets to put a particularly stirring and beautiful poem to music, just after the Great War. As the second verse has it, “there's another country/I've heard of long ago/Most dear to them that love her/most great to them that know”. Imagine if the Holst family had been kept out because the quota on musical European types had been reached.
6/10 Curry and Cobra
Chicken Tikka Masala is, so they say, a dish which not only the most popular in Britain but specifically designed to cater for European tastes. For that we probably have to thank an Indian migrant, Sake Dean Mahomed, who came from Bengal to open the first recognisable Indian restaurant, the magnificently named “Hindoostanee Coffee House”. History does not record if a plate of poppadoms and accompanying selection of pickles and yoghurts were routinely placed on the table for new diners, but we do know that we had to wait until 1989 to taste the ideal lager for a curry - Cobra. That brew was brought to us by Karan (now Lord) Bilimoria, a Cambridge law graduate who hailed from Hyderabad.
7/10 That big red swirly sculpture at the Olympic Park
Or Orbit, to give it its proper name, the work of Anish Kapoor, who arrived in 1973 from India and had the artistic imagination to fill a power station.
8/10 The Sun
Love it or hate it, and many do both, this has been a symbol of much that is successful and a lot that is awful in British journalism since its inception in 1969. In its turn it spawned the Page 3 Girl and some nastily xenophobic headlines. All the stranger when you consider its creator was, of course, Rupert Murdoch, born 11 March 1931 in Melbourne, Australia.
OK, Karl Marx’s philosophy was not much of a gift to the world, but for a while it seemed like a good idea. Though we might not dare admit it, Marxism still has a few insights to offer to anyone wanting to understand the workings of capitalism, though too few to excuse everything that was done in its name. Born in Germany spent much time in the British museum and the British pub, buried Highgate Cemetery. Oddly, his ideas never really caught on in his adopted homeland.
10/10 The NHS
They came from many, many backgrounds, including Ireland, the Philippines, east Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and Africa, as they still do, but the contribution of the black nurses who came to the UK from the Caribbean to heal and care for is a debt of honour that must be recognised. It so sometimes forgotten that it was Enoch Powell, then Minister of Health (1960-62), who campaigned to recruit their skilled nurses to come and work over here. One abiding legacy we can thank Enoch for.
“No attempts were made to check an applicant’s criminal record in the country of nationality, despite Home Office guidance on how to obtain this from many countries around the world,” he said. “The absence of such checks provided opportunities for a dishonest application to conceal a criminal history.”
His findings raised a question mark over the system under which some 200,000 citizenship applications – giving people the right to a passport, to vote and to hold public office – are approved each year by the Home Office.
It follows the Home Secretary’s admission that the Government will not keep David Cameron’s promise to cut net migration to below 100,000 by next year’s general election.
Ms May was accused by Labour of trying to “bury bad news” by delaying the report’s publication for more than three months and faced demands to make an urgent statement on its conclusions.
Mr Vine presented his report to the Home Secretary on September 1. The Independent disclosed last month that he had complained that the delay in publishing his reports promptly had diluted their impact.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “When Home Office failures allow murderers to get British citizenship the Home Secretary should take action and not seek to manage the bad news.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said yesterday: “Reports are laid as soon as they are ready for publication. Some reports require significant consideration and the development of new guidance or processes… This can cause unavoidable delays.”
Immigration headaches: Three months of problems for Theresa May
A damaging picture of waste, mismanagement and IT problems in the asylum system is painted by the Commons public accounts committee. It says 11,000 asylum seekers are still waiting, after more than seven years, for an initial decision on whether they can remain.
The number of foreign prisoners is revealed as 10,649, and the numbers being removed each year are falling, the National Audit Office reports. This comes more than eight years after Charles Clarke was forced to resign as Home Secretary over the disclosure that asylum seekers had been released without being considered for deportation.
Net annual migration climbs to 260,000, more than the amount the Coalition inherited from Labour. Theresa May finally acknowledges that the Government is heading for failure over David Cameron’s promise to cut the number from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands by next year’s election.
A Home Office scheme to deport foreign criminals and save £10m a year is revealed to have led to only two offenders leaving Britain. The annual target was 62.Reuse content