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 Head of UK border force Brodie Clark suspended

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PostSubject: Head of UK border force Brodie Clark suspended   Head of UK border force Brodie Clark suspended I_icon_minitimeFri Nov 04, 2011 11:11 pm

Brodie Clark Brodie Clark is alleged to have authorised officials to abandon biometric checks on some occasions
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* UK Border Agency 'dumped cases'

The head of the UK border force has been suspended by the Home Office following allegations staff were told to relax some identity checks.

Brodie Clark also sits on the board of the UK Border Agency, of which the border force is part. Two other UKBA officials have also been suspended.

The Home Office is investigating and has made no further comment.

Staff working for the UK border force are responsible for checking passports and conducting immigration raids.

BBC home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds said sources had told him that Mr Clark had informed Home Office officials that he had agreed to "open up the borders" at certain times - such as in busy periods over the summer - in ways ministers would "not have agreed with".

"What we understand is the government allows the UK Border Agency to be discretionary in some of the checks it carries out - for example it will be allowed to decide not to do a biometric check if necessary - but that they have been told checks far beyond that have been abandoned," our correspondent said.

Another senior UKBA official, Graham Kyle, who is director of operations at Heathrow Airport, is among the two others suspended.
'Incredulity and fury'

Biometric passports contain a digital image of the holder's face which can be used to compare with the printed version and check the passport has not been forged.
passport control Border staff have been under pressure to speed up queues at airports

As well as being told to not check biometric passports at some times, it is also thought checks may not have been made against Home Office watch lists, and checks of fingerprints against non-EU nationals may not have been carried out.

Home Secretary Theresa May's reaction to the developments was "incredulity and fury", the source told our correspondent.

Mr Clark was at first offered the opportunity of retiring by the UK Border Agency, but, following the intervention of the Home Office, was suspended pending an investigation.

Two investigations have been ordered. Dave Wood, who heads the enforcement and crime group at the UKBA, will carry out a two-week inquiry designed to discover to what extent checks were scaled down and what the security implications might have been.

Ex-MI6 official Mike Anderson, director general of the strategy, immigration and international group at the Home Office, will investigate wider issues relating to the performance of UKBA.

Our correspondent said one Home Office source had said the agency had become a "massive problem".

Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz, who is also a Labour MP, said the suspensions were "extraordinary" because they involved such senior members of the UK Border Agency.

He said: "Only a day after the publication of our report, which concluded that the Border Agency continues to fail, we have this remarkable news.

"We will question the home secretary about this on Tuesday when she comes before the committee. If her answers do not satisfy us, I am sure the committee will want to conduct its own inquiry.

"The border police are supposed to keep people out, not let people in."

The Home Affairs Select Committee report, published on Friday, found that 124,000 deportation cases had been shelved by the UKBA.

It said the cases had been "dumped" in an archive, with the agency giving up on them.

The term "controlled archive" was used to try to hide the fact that it was a list of lost applicants, the MPs said.

Ministers and the opposition blamed each other for the reported failings.

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