Immigration Minister Mark Harper has resigned after learning that his cleaner did not have indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
In his resignation letter, there is no suggestion that Mr Harper knowingly employed an irregular immigrant.
The worker in fact showed Mr. Harper documents claiming she had indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
The moment Mr. Harper discovered that he had all along employed an illegal immigrant, he notified Prime Minister David Cameron who accepted his resignation with regret.
In his resignation letter to Mr. Cameron, Mr. Harper said that when hiring a cleaner for his London flat in April 2007, he “undertook a number of checks beforehand.”
“This included consideration of the HMRC tests as to whether the cleaner was performing her work under a contract for services on a self-employed basis which I concluded she was. However, even though there was no legal requirement for me to check her right to work in the UK, I felt that it was appropriate to do so. I therefore took a copy of her passport to verify her identity and also a copy of a Home Office letter, dated 26 January 2006, which stated that she had leave to remain indefinitely in the United Kingdom, including the right to work and engage in a business.”
Mr. Harper said he considered carrying out similar checks again when he was appointed Minister in the Cabinet Office in May 2010. He however concluded that since he had performed a right to work check in 2007 and that his cleaner had indefinite leave to remain in the UK no further check was necessary.
As Mr. Harper took the Immigration Bill through Parliament, he said he “thought it prudent to check that all my documents were in order for my cleaner.”
“I undertook an extensive search to locate the copies of documents I had taken but unfortunately I was unable to locate them,” Mr. Harper said.
In late January 2014 Mr. Harper asked the worker to provide further copies of her documents which she provided on 4th February.
“On 5 February, I asked my private office to check the details with immigration officials to confirm that all was in order. I was informed on the morning of 6 February that my cleaner did not in fact have indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom,” Mr. Harper said.
He immediately notified the Home Secretary Theresa May. Mr. Harper added that the matter was now with Immigration Enforcement.
“Although I complied with the law at all times, I consider that as Immigration Minister, who is taking legislation through Parliament which will toughen up our immigration laws, I should hold myself to a higher standard than expected of others,” Mr. Harper said.
The fact that even an Immigration Minister could fail to verify if his worker had indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom shows how complex it is for employers to carry out the necessary checks.