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Attorney General fined £5,000 for immigration offence

22 September 2009

Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, has been fined £5,000 for employing an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper.

As minister of state at the Home Office, Baroness Scotland helped guide through the House of Lords the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum Act 2006, which introduced on-the-spot civil fines for employing illegal immigrants.

Following an investigation, Lin Homer, chief executive of UK Border Agency, said the agency was satisfied that the Attorney General did not “knowingly employ” Loloahi Tapui, 27, from Tonga.

Under the Act, people who knowingly employ illegal immigrants can be punished with an unlimited fine and two years in prison.

Homer said Baroness Scotland had taken steps to check the documents provided by Tapui but failed to keep copies, as required by law.

“Our priority in enforcement against employers is to identify employers who knowingly flout the rules, often on a continual basis and on a large scale,” Homer said.

“However, under immigration law, any employer found to have employed people with no right to work here can face a civil penalty. A variable rate of fine can be imposed depending on the circumstances of a case.

“Employers who co-operate with investigations, as in this case, who have no previous record of employing people illegally, or who can show they made some effort to check the status of an employee, are not normally fined at the maximum level of £10,000.

“In this case we have assessed the appropriate level of penalty to be £5,000. The fine is in line with the level of fines imposed on other employers.”

Homer said that the “wider investigation” into the Tapui case would continue. Police raided her flat this weekend.

In a statement issued by her adviser last week, Baroness Scotland said she had paid tax and national insurance in relation to Tapui’s employment, and at no stage prior to the story in the Daily Mail, did she believe there was any question mark over her entitlement to work.

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Local government