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USA UK and Malta News
13/11/2007 - 23:00

EditoWeb UK News: Smith faces MPs over immigrants row

The Home Secretary has defended her decision not to make public the fact that illegal immigrants were cleared to work as security guards.

acqui Smith told the Commons that she had wanted to establish the "full nature and scale" of the scandal before making an announcement to the public.

Ms Smith made the Commons statement after leaked memos showed that thousands of illegal immigrants were allowed to work in the UK, many of them in sensitive security posts.

Ms Smith said it was true that she felt the "lines to take" by press officers had not been good enough, but added that it was because the analysis of the issue was not complete.

The Home Secretary said that checks on the estimated 40,000 non EEA nationals granted a licence by the Security Industry Authority would be complete in December.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said the Home Office response had been "blunder, panic and cover-up".

Earlier, a Home Office spokesman said it was the responsibility of employers to ensure that those they employed were entitled to work in the UK.

"This is therefore an example of the Government putting in place more effective systems and procedures to further protect the public," the spokesman said.

"It is about keeping those systems under constant and careful review and introducing improvements as circumstances change and the need suggests.

"The responsible thing to do was to establish the full nature and scale of the issue rather than put partial and potentially misleading information into the public domain. The Government expects this will not be known until the current operation is concluded in December."


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