UK's Independent Border Inspector Resigns, Home Secretary Blamed

Britain's independent Border and Immigration Chief Inspector, John Vine, is set to leave his job seven months early amidst claims that the Home Office under the stewardship of Conservative Teresa May conspired to cover-up her failings.

Vine, who has served as the Chief Inspector for six years, is reported to have become frustrated by some of the Home Office's tactics to cover up its failings. Specifically, the moving of the time of press releases from midnight, which ensured media coverage, to daytime, which caused a lack of response from journalists, seems to have upset him.

Labour's Shadow Immigration Minister David Hanson wasted no time in putting the knife in to May and her colleagues at the Home Office. According to the BBC, Hanson said Vine's departure was "an indictment of [Home Secretary] Theresa May's attempts to silence his criticisms of her failing immigration system".

The BBC lists Vine's most pertinent findings from his time as Chief Inspector: 

  • October 2013: Vine said the Home Office's multi-million pound e-borders scheme had failed to meet its promises. He said staff at airports were not stopping those with terrorist alerts against them on arrival, and "not one person" had been stopped boarding a plane to the UK;
  • June 2014: He told MPs that immigration officials did not know the true scale of the problem of sham marriages in the UK and that it represented "one of the biggest potential threats to immigration control";
  • 2012: The Home Office had a "migration refusal pool" - people whose temporary or permanent migration application had been refused but whose whereabouts were unknown to the authorities;
  • November 2013: Vine said thousands of smugglers of goods were going unpunished because of a breakdown in communication between Border Force and HMRC officials;
  • November 2012: He accused the UK Border Agency of supplying inaccurate information to MPs about the backlog of asylum cases and said Parliament had received incorrect assurances about moves to address this.

Hanson added: "It's a real shame that the home secretary's increasing manipulation of the release of his reports to try to hide her failures has clearly led to his frustration and ultimately resignation from the role."

Mr Vine said: “My Annual Report for 2013/14, which is published in December, will mark six years since I was appointed Chief Inspector and set up this Inspectorate. During that period I have agreed to two extensions to my original term of office at the request of the Home Secretary, and I feel now is the time to move on.

"I am immensely proud of establishing this Inspectorate from scratch, and believe it has been a catalyst for significant change and improvement across the UK’s border and immigration functions. After publishing over 50 inspection reports and making close to 500 recommendations, the time is right for me to seek a new challenge.

“By announcing my resignation early I want to give the Home Secretary enough time to appoint a successor and ensure a smooth transition of arrangements. Leaving at the end of the year and before the next general election, rather than in July 2015 when my term is due to end, makes sense.”


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