Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

Baroness Scotland – Did she look at the passport ?, and why it doesn’t matter !

Just a quick one.

The story about  Baroness Scotland employing an illegal immigrant continues to rumble on. Now the Mail claims that the “illegal” in question says that Baroness Scotland never looked at her passport. So who’s the liar ?

First of all (ignoring the possibility that the “illegal” may not be an absolutely reliable witness given that the antics of Baroness Scotland may well be about to get her deported) the issue of whether she looked at the passport is an irrelevance, Baroness Scotland has already pleaded guilty to the offence. She admits she made no record of her checks. So in a legal sense, she didn’t make any – not proper ones, and they are the only ones which count.

However as someone who has employed rather a few people who have had overseas passports it does cross my mind whether she’d have been allowed to look at the passport in the first place.

If you are taking on an employee, it’s generally considered OK to ask for :

  • Evidence of a person’s identity
  • Evidence of their eligibility to work in the UK

However it’s not considered OK to make extensive investigations as to whether a person is an illegal immigrant or not – that’s not an employers job. It’s considered discriminatory if a potential employee is subjected to checks and inquiries in excess of those that you would make for any other applicant – for instance a white middle class man with a home counties accent.

So in general, if a person can prove who they are – perhaps with a driving licence and a utilities bill to name two commonly accepted methods, has two bona fide references from previous employers, and also has a document showing proof of National Insurance number (and this is a permanent NI number not beginning with the letter ‘T’) then it would be unreasonable to go asking for passports. You could and should assume that the NI number was issued after exhaustive procedures to establish entitlement.

So it would be quite possible to do normal checks without ever seeing a passport. Not without seeing a National Insurance number though – and one does wonder whether the lady in question had one.

As to whether Baroness Scotland knew that or whether she did any of that, I’ve no idea – but she’s admitted her wrongdoing – and that makes the Mail’s campaign irrelevant.

Makes you think though doesn’t it.

Personally I think what she’s done is trivial and fairly unimportant, she’s a politician not a Human Resources expert.

I do however feel that she should be aware of this in her position, and that even in the case of relatively trivial offences, the office of Attorney General needs to be so far above reproach, that the only honourable course of action for her is to hand in her resignation.


September 28, 2009 - Posted by | politics | , , ,


  1. […] Show original post here […]

    Pingback by Baroness Scotland – Did she look at the passport ?, and why it … | | September 28, 2009 | Reply

  2. You are missing a fundamental point here my friend – The Baroness says she saw a passport. If the Baroness had taken a copy of the document it would have shown her to be illegal as it would have show the country of origin was not British – If the cleaner had a Visa then it would have shown when the Visa ran out.

    The documents presented could never have been valid or acceptable – As the Baroness has failed to show the copied documents, This implies one of two things.

    (1) Forged documents were presented by the Cleaner.
    (2) The Baroness is not telling the truth.

    Comment by steve | September 28, 2009 | Reply

    • My point is that whatever Baroness Scotland says she did or did not do, she has admitted guilt – therefore she’s guilty, and has paid the price legally. She is also paying the price in media, and you can hardly blame people for judging her.

      As I say – personally I don’t think it’s a big deal – I know other people who’ve made errors in processing job applications, and not needed to resign, and I’ve also inadvertently appointed an illegal immigrant myself in the past, although our own referencing procedures later brought this to light and after discussions with the immigration authorities, the contract was declared null and void. I wasn’t subject to any penalty (and believe I followed all guidelines). But I’m not the attorney general.

      As Attorney General though I think she needs to be beyond reproach – much as I think the mail are having an over the top field day with this, she can easily put a stop to that – by resigning. It’s tough on her, but it’s a very high level of responsibility.

      Comment by northernheckler | September 28, 2009 | Reply

    • Just one other point – the illegal immigrant I employed had a forged visa in his passport, I sure as anything could not tell the difference between that and the real thing. I did however keep a copy, and this proved useful when routine reference checks showed that one reference was forged and the other was written by a relative.

      Comment by northernheckler | September 28, 2009 | Reply

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