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Baroness Scotland ‘didn’t see cleaner’s passport’ say Mail on Sunday | Immigration Matters

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Following last week’s report that the Attorney General had employed an illegal immigrant, the media has published further revelations piling more pressure on Baroness Scotland, one of the architects of the 2006 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act, to resign.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, the Attorney General’s former housekeeper, Tongan Loloahi Tapui, claims that she did not show Baroness Scotland a passport when she was employed to work for her in January.

Earlier this week Baroness Scotland insisted Ms Tapui had shown her a passport, but had failed to keep a photocopy of the document, and now suggests there was a mystery ‘second passport’ involved in the scandal.

The Mail on Sunday has disclosed that UK Border Agency officials found a Tongan passport belonging to Ms Tapui when they raided her flat last week, but that a visa it contained, apparently entitling her to work in the UK, had been forged – and in any case was out of date when Lady Scotland took her on.

Ms Tapui says she has been in Britain illegally for five years, ever since her student visa ran out.

But the Cabinet Minister was adamant the passport she saw was not that document, but another one – although she could not recall the precise details.

Ms Tapui insists the passport found in her West London home is the only one she possesses.

The Attorney-General was fined £5,000 by the UK Border Agency last week after it emerged that her housekeeper, Tongan-born Loloahi Tapui, was an illegal immigrant who had overstayed her visa.

In a statement yesterday, Baroness Scotland said:

“As I have said previously, I was shown all relevant documents – a P45, National Insurance details, a marriage certificate, a letter from the Home Office, references and a passport – by Ms Tapui during her job interviews.”

However, her version of events was contradicted last night by Miss Tapui, who told the Mail on Sunday:

“It is not true that I produced a passport and a letter from the Home Office saying that I was entitled to work.

“She didn’t ask for a passport or a letter, but she has said that she saw a passport which I didn’t produce.”

Miss Tapui told Border Agency deputy director Tony Erne last Monday that she had never shown Lady Scotland a passport, according to reports last night.

Ms Tapui and her Serbian husband were arrested by UK Border Agency officers in Chiswick, South-West London, on Wednesday.

The row over the ‘second passport’ came as Ms Tapui, speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, revealed that she was paid just £6 an hour by Lady Scotland – only 27p above the minimum wage and about £3 an hour below the going rate for this sort of work in London.

However, sources close to the Baroness said she had offered the housekeeper a raise – but she had declined it.

Ms Tapui says she was put to work cleaning Lady Scotland’s £2million home after an interview lasting just ten minutes and including no questions about her family background.

‘She just said to me, “Do you want to start now?”, and I said yes,’ the housekeeper revealed.

She also disclosed how she was sacked by a terse text message once the scandal of her immigration status was exposed, following a series of desperate phone calls from Lady Scotland and her aides, belatedly trying to determine exactly what documents the housekeeper had produced at the job interview.

Ms Tapui revealed that the out-of-date forged visa stamp in her passport was acquired by a Russian acquaintance for a £180 fee. She obtained the stamp after twice being refused a visa by the Home Office, which nonetheless took no action to deport her.

Ms Tapui told Border Agency deputy director Tony Erne last Monday that she had never shown Lady Scotland a passport – and the following day, the department issued its controversial ruling that the Attorney General need only pay a £5,000 fine for breaking the immigration laws she helped to draft.

Ms Tapui admitted she does not know what will happen to her now she has been charged over her immigration status, but said: ‘I know I am telling the truth – that is all I can do.’

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling has accused the Government of a ‘whitewash’ to protect Lady Scotland.

He said: ‘This unedifying row just underlines why Lady Scotland’s position is now completely untenable.

‘But it also raises huge question marks over the way the Home Office and the Prime Minister have handled the case.

‘The Home Office rushed through an investigation without listening to all the evidence, and the Prime Minister exonerated Lady Scotland before the cleaner had even been questioned. This is increasingly looking like an attempted whitewash that has gone badly wrong.’

The Mail on Sunday submitted ten questions to the UK Border Agency concerning Ms Tapui’s passport and Baroness Scotland’s statement that she did see valid documentation.

The agency responded by referring to the arrest earlier this week of Ms Tapui and her husband Alexander Zivancevic, saying: ‘We have confirmed that a woman and man were arrested and questioned by UK Border Agency officers on September 23 for immigration offences.

‘They were later bailed and the woman will be reporting regularly to the UK Border Agency. We will not be commenting on any operational details of an ongoing investigation.’

There are now claims of dirty tricks against Ms Tapui amid reports that police were called to investigate cash and jewellery that allegedly vanished from Lady Scotland’s home.

Senior sources denied the Minister was responsible for Press reports, which linked the incident to Ms Tapui’s plan to give her side of the story about Lady Scotland’s conduct.

The Metropolitan Police told The Mail on Sunday they had received no formal allegations concerning any theft from Lady Scotland’s home.

In a carefully worded statement, Lady Scotland said:

‘For the record, as I have previously said, I was shown all relevant documents – P45, National Insurance details, a marriage certificate, a letter from the Home Office, references and a passport by Ms Tapui during her job interview. I have nothing further to add.’

Ms Tapui, however, remembers things rather differently.

A pretty girl, known to friends and family as Lolo, she still finds her new-found notoriety hard to comprehend. Naturally private, she admits to having only a few close friends and finds the idea of speaking out uncomfortable.

Yet she also possesses a determined streak and she feels that her version of events – one substantially different to Lady Scotland’s – should be told.

Lolo is clear that she has no personal or professional gripe with the Baroness, or Patricia as she called her. ‘She was always very approachable and down-to-earth,’ she says.

‘I liked her. I’m not backstabbing Lady Scotland but I have to do this. The thing is I know that it’s not true that I produced a passport and a letter from the Home Office saying I was entitled to work. She didn’t ask for a passport or a letter but she has said she has seen a passport which I did not provide. I’ll take a lie detector test if I have to, if she’s saying I provided a passport. I didn’t.’

Recalling the day – Friday, January 30 – that they first met, Lolo says: ‘I’d put an advert on a local website called Chiswick W4 for a job as a housekeeper or babysitter. I said, “I’m 26 years old, looking for a job as a cleaner, babysitting and other housekeeping jobs. If you’re interested give me a call” and gave my name and phone number.

‘That Friday, at 2pm, a woman called Judy called me and said she was the PA of Lady Scotland and would I be able to meet at 3pm that afternoon

‘When I got there, Judy and Lady Scotland were there. Lady Scotland and I went into the sitting room and sat down on the sofa while Judy was waiting in the kitchen. She said, “Where are you from?” and I said, “Tonga”.

‘She told me that Judy was from New Zealand which is very close and said, “I have met your Attorney General.” There were no questions about my family background.

‘After the greeting, the first thing she asked me about was previous employers. She asked what I did for them, what were my experiences and what did I do best in my job.

‘She said, “Do you cook, can you do laundry?” I said that I wasn’t a good cook but would try to learn. I said the best thing I did within my field of work was cleaning.

‘Then she said, “If you can now give me your documents.” I had them in my little cream handbag. They were in a mid-size envelope.

‘I provided my marriage certificate, my P45 with my National Insurance number on it, as I had lost the card with it on, and payslips from my last employer. They were a bit old because I wasn’t working for eight or nine months before working with Lady Scotland.

‘I also provided references from my last employer, which has contracts with airports and hotels. I didn’t give my passport. She now says that I provided a passport, but I did not.

‘She never questioned me for any other documentation. She didn’t ask me, “Where is your passport? Provide me with a letter that shows you can work in the UK.” She just looked at what I’d given her, then gave it back to me.

‘Then she said to me, “So, do you want to start now?” And I said yes. I started straight away. I’d say it took less than ten minutes.

‘Straight after we spoke she left with Judy to do the shopping. I stayed to about 7.30 that night and she came back with her chauffeur and all the Sainsbury’s bags and then began cooking – chicken breasts in marinade.’

Lolo worked the following day and Lady Scotland, happy with the results, asked her if she would come back on Monday.

Lolo says: ‘The house needed so much work to do that first week I started at nine in the morning and finished at seven each night. She said that her last housekeeper hadn’t worked for a whole month so there was loads to do, not so much laundry as she would come home and do that in the evening, but it was dusty.

‘There was lots of sorting out. After that we realised there was so much to do, we sorted out fixed hours of 9.30am to 5.30pm.

‘She said to me, “My last housekeeper I paid £8 an hour, so how much do you want?” I said to her, “What if you pay me £6 per hour and if you’re satisfied with my work then more,” and she was happy with that.’

But Lady Scotland never offered Lolo the pay rise. Nor did she put her on a contract as she had said she would.

‘No contract was given to me to be signed. She’d said, “I’ll have to do you a contract because if I’m satisfied and you’re up to the standard, I’ll pay you the £8” but she never did. She said after three months we’d review it but then I didn’t say anything to her about it.’

Nevertheless Lolo enjoyed her work which involved cleaning, walking the family dog, Becks, general errands and preparing the family’s evening meal. She got on with Lady Scotland’s husband, barrister Richard Mawhinney, who worked from home, and liked their two teenage sons.

Lolo, who is married to 40-year-old solicitor, Alexander Zivancevic, says: ‘I didn’t see her in the morning at all and she said, “You are lucky if you see me. If I come home at 9pm, that’s early.” I would see her only on Fridays because that was the day she worked from home. I would make her a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea.

‘We talked sometimes. I told her that I was married to Alexander and I spoke a bit about my family in Tonga.

‘I can’t remember her asking me about when I came to the UK or any questions about how long I had been here. She did ask me once, “Have you been to Tonga to see your family?” And I said no, I have not been since I came.’

A few more questions about her housekeeper’s background and personal life may have at least elicited some clues as to the true nature of her status.

Born in the village of Leimatua on the island of Vava’u, Lola’s father, Sini, 52, was a farmer while her mother, Ema, 51, weaved mats. The eldest of eight, she has two brothers and five sisters, the youngest of whom is 13 years old.

She says: ‘Tonga is a very poor country, not compared to Africa, say, but it is still developing. My dad and mum were not educated. They managed to know how to write their names but didn’t speak a word of English and were very poor at maths.

‘My father would grow yams and cassavas and sell them at market while my mother made mats. They worked very hard so we could all go to school. I went to primary school and then Vava’u High School.’

Lolo is clearly bright with an impressive command of the English language. She says that she always knew she wanted to leave Tonga and she always knew she wanted to go to Britain.

‘New Zealand and Australia are the common places where people go,’ she says. ‘But I thought the UK was a different area, where Tongans couldn’t afford to go.

‘My grandmother paid for half the ticket. Her daughter, my aunt, already lived in London and her other son and daughter in New Zealand also gave her money. My parents saved for the other half.’

Lolo arrived in Britain on February 12, 2003. She says: ‘I stayed with my aunt in Harlesden, North West London, for the first couple of weeks and then she helped me with the rent for a bedsit nearby. I got a job with an Indian hardware store.

‘I love my family and I send them money when I can, about £30 every four to six weeks. When I first arrived, the first few days, I wanted to go home but my mum said give it a chance, then I ended up not wanting to go. And then I met Alex. I don’t want to live in Tonga now.’

Alex introduced himself to Lolo in November 2004, when they were both dining at the same Portuguese restaurant in Harlesden.

He was nearly 14 years her senior, and a solicitor specialising in property and aviation law. His father, Petar, and mother, Marija, are both Serbian but Alex was born in Britain and holds a British passport. His grandparents were given leave to remain while his mother also has a British passport.

Because Tonga is a part of the Commonwealth, Lolo was able to stay for six months without a visa after she first arrived. She then applied for, and was given, a year-long extension from September 2003.  

She says: ‘I enrolled at the English College in Wembley. I think it was a student visa because I was learning English. The one-year visa was stamped in my passport and they sent me a letter from the Home Office saying I would not be able to work more than 20 hours a week. I was working in an Indian hardware store in Harlesden at the time.

‘After that I applied again but the Home Office sent me a letter saying I had been refused as my school no longer existed. I wasn’t informed that the school was going to close. The week before the letter arrived I had been off. I went to the school after the letter came and it’s true, it had just shut down. I tried applying again and the Home Office said no.’

Shock: The text message in which Loloahi Tapui was told by Baroness Scotland that she was losing her job

Although she was now living in the country illegally, Lolo simply carried on as she had before. She now had a job as a contract housekeeper in a Hyde Park hotel and had moved to a bedsit in Hammersmith, West London.

She heard nothing from the Home Office but in the spring of 2005 her employers began a routine check of their employees’ immigration status.

Lolo says: ‘I was being pressurised by my manager. They said I needed a letter from the Home Office or a passport to say that I was able to work. I had this guy sharing the same premises as me and he was Russian. I told him about it and said I’d been refused two times. He said, “Don’t worry, I know someone in the Home Office, I’ll get it stamped for you.”

‘I was so desperate not to lose my job I was not thinking if it was true or false. He said I would have to pay this person £180. My last two applications I paid £155, so it seemed about right. After a few days he brought the passport back and it was stamped for a year.’

Lolo insists she thought the visa was real. In truth, she can hardly have been surprised when immigration officials told her last week it was a forgery.

Either way, the fact remains that after it ran out, she did not apply for another. Now, she knew she was living illegally. In fact she has been living illegally in Britain for five years.

And it is for this reason, Lolo remains certain she never showed Lady Scotland her passport.

The job interview was her first since leaving her last employers the previous year after a disagreement with one of her managers. She says: ‘I was illegal then, an overstayer, so if I had showed her she would not have given me the job.’

A spokesman for the hospitality and catering company where Ms Tapui was employed for four years as a cleaner, said they had no reason to be unhappy with her work.

He said: ‘Four years is a reasonable length of time in our industry. After general discussions with staff, no problems with her work or conduct have come to light.’

Lolo did not even tell Alex that she was an overstayer. The couple moved in together in August 2006 when Alex bought their one-bedroom flat in a Thirties mansion block near Turnham Green, West London.

A University of London law graduate, Alex works out of offices owned by London law firm, Chetty and Co. He was previously a partner at Hoffman Bokaei solicitors, in Hampstead, North London, but left the firm by mutual consent in May this year after work dried up.

He proposed to Lolo in March 2007, yet he was still oblivious to her real status. It was only in April, a month before their wedding, that she admitted the truth.

She says: ‘I thought he would leave me for hiding it from him.’ In fact, Alex supported her and the wedding went ahead as planned on May 12 at their local church, Christ Church where the couple are regular members of the congregation. There were just 12 guests and afterwards they all had dinner at a local Carluccio’s restaurant.

Alex says now: ‘I was shocked but I treated it as not something important at the time. The only thing I was worried about was that we were getting married in a month’s time.

‘I went on the UK Border Agency website and discovered that you didn’t need a certificate of approval from the Home Office if you got married in the Church of England. We would have always got married there, but that was the loophole.’

Despite being a lawyer Alex, like Lolo, buried his head in the sand with regard to her immigration status. It was a situation that would inevitably catch up with them yet neither expected it to unravel in such dramatic fashion.

Instead of a letter or a warning from the authorities, it was the Daily Mail that discovered that Lolo was not just working as an illegal immigrant, but working for the most senior lawyer in the land.

Describing the moment she was discovered 11 days ago, Lolo says: ‘A reporter knocked at Lady Scotland’s door and told me that they knew I was working illegally. It was just past 1pm. He said I should call Lady Scotland but I didn’t, I called my husband and then went straight home.

‘Lady Scotland called me about 2pm and said, “Lolo, I’m calling you because there is a story about you and me that is going to be published about me employing you as an illegal worker.”

‘I felt she was a bit shocked and then she said to me, “Tell me, what did you provide to me as documents?” I told her and she said, “So this marriage certificate of yours. How did you get married to Alex, and I passed the phone to Alex and he spoke to her from then.’

Alex says: ‘First of all, she said, “What is Lolo’s status?” The next question was, “Well, I’m sure that I’ve seen some documentation that entitles her to work in the UK.”

‘At that point I asked Lolo to get the documents which were still in the very same bag and in the same envelope as the day of the interview. The envelope contained a marriage certificate, a number of payslips from her previous employer and a P45 with her National Insurance number on it.

‘Patricia was friendly and normal but she said, “Right, I’m going to have to look into it.” In the next phone call I got from her, that afternoon, she said, “I wonder if you could email proof of Lolo’s entitlement to work in the UK and she gave me the email of an aide in her office, Peter Fish. She also asked if I could write a chronology of Lolo since arriving in the UK , which I did.

‘I subsequently had a conversation with Peter Fish and he said, “You can understand the predicament we’re in. We’d like to help her but can you show me any proof?” I told him I had nothing in black and white to prove she could live and work in the UK.’

Instead, at 7.18pm, and as Lady Scotland’s position appeared increasingly compromised, she sent a cold and abrupt text to Alex’s phone. It read, ‘Alex, this is really shocking. I have to terminate Lolo’s employment with immediate effect. I do need to speak to Lolo. Patricia.’

This was followed by an email addressed to Lolo, which said that she was writing to confirm that she had been dismissed.

It went on to say: ‘I made it absolutely clear that I could not employ you if there was any question about your status and/or entitlement to work…

‘Earlier today, I asked Alex to send me any evidence you that you are entitled to work, and I have received no such evidence. I have been placed in an intolerable position and sadly have no alternative but to treat this as gross misconduct.

‘In any event, on the information I now have, it would be unlawful for me to continue to employ you.’

But if there was a hint of desperation in Lady Scotland’s tone, it was only going to get worse.

The following day, Thursday, September 17, Alex had to leave London to go to his godfather’s funeral in Washington. Lolo, meanwhile, found refuge with a friend of Alex’s, in a small village on the outskirts of Hull.

On Sunday morning she woke to the news that their home had been raided by four immigration officials in blue boiler suits, who broke down the door with a 3ft metal battering ram.

‘It was awful,’ she says. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the paper and I read it. I wanted to cry but I wouldn’t let myself.’

The next day she moved to a flat in Staines, Middlesex, also organised by Alex’s friend.

Despite Lady Scotland’s abrupt treatment of his wife, Alex still offered to help the Baroness. He says: ‘I’d written Patricia an email saying that I was willing to help in any way possible to deal with this investigation. She said in an email that it would be help her greatly if I were to call Tony Erne, the deputy director of the UK Border Agency.

‘She said, “I really do think it would be better if you gave him a full and frank explanation as to how all of this came about.” I called him and we spoke last Monday. First of all, he asked me a number of questions relating to Lolo. The first was, did I know she was illegal? I said I did but only about a month before we got married.

‘He said, “Well I would advise you to have independent legal advice.” The second question was, “Are you aware of the documents that where shown to Lady Scotland?” My answer was, “I do know the documents that were shown but I don’t believe there was anything in the documents that would show Lolo having the eligibility to work.”

‘The third question was, “Did Lady Scotland see her passport?” I said no.

‘He said that the passport was questionable, asked if I knew anything about that, and then said, “Let me recap. The first thing I need to deal with is the investigation. I don’t need to tell you what’s been written in the papers and I need to answer to my seniors. We’re talking hours rather than days and her [Lady Scotland’s] position is hanging by a thread. He said he really needed to speak to Lolo as soon as possible.

‘I told him I didn’t know where she was which he said he found very hard to believe. But I promised I would get in touch with her.’

Lolo called the deputy director that afternoon, warning him that the credit on her pay-as-you-go mobile was low and they might be cut off.

She says: ‘He said, “Hello, Miss Tapui, how are you and where are you? I said I didn’t know and he said, “Of course you know where you are.”

‘I said I couldn’t tell him and then he asked what I provided for Lady Scotland. I said the list of documents. He said, “Did you provide a passport or a letter saying you are allowed to work here?” I said I did not but then the credit on my phone ran out.’

It is by no means a satisfactory interview. Yet it does mean that the Border Agency had been told on Monday, by Lolo and her husband, that she never provided any proof to Lady Scotland of her eligibility to work in the UK.

In a rushed and controversial investigation, the agency ruled that the Baroness need only pay a £5,000 fine despite the fact she had broken the law she helped draft, the Asylum and Immigration Act 2006.

It was the first time an individual had been fined for failing to check an employee’s immigration status.

None of the forms provided by Lolo are adequate proof of a person’s right to live and work in Britain.

The Baroness is also reported to have said she was duped into employing Ms Tapui by a forged Home Office letter which allegedly said she had the right to live and work in Britain. But the Home Office said last night: ‘If she was here as a visitor, we would not have issued her with a letter saying she could work. There is no chance of that happening while she was in the country.’

Certainly, while both sides are at fault, they both seem to have been treated very differently.

Lola and Alex’s flat was dramatically raided eight days ago while both of them were away. When they returned home last Wednesday, they found a broken door frame, books all over the floor, covers torn off the bed and dust and mud traipsed through their normally pristine home.

Alex says: ‘We like to keep the place nice and Lolo was very upset walking back in. We did feel violated. It was horrible to know that they’d been in there while we’d been away – while they knew we were away.’

The news of Lady Scotland’s fine broke last Tuesday, and the following Lolo and Alex were arrested and spent 11 hours in their local police station being questioned by immigration officers – even though the interviews themselves only took about half an hour.

Lolo says: ‘We got to the police station about 4.25pm. They took all my details, nationality, height, eye colour, ethnic group and then one of the lady officers took me to a room and took DNA samples. Then they took me to another room and took fingerprints and then I was taken into the cell.

‘The moment they put me in a cell I was very depressed. I thought to myself that I was being jailed, and that if I get charged, this was what it was going to be like for me – which I didn’t want.

‘I was interviewed by two female officers from the UK Border Agency. They were very calm, not harsh at all but they showed me photocopies of my passport with the visa stamps.

‘The second visa, which I got from the Russian, they said they were concerned about. They said it was forged. They said, “It is not in our records as a real stamp so where did you get it?” I told them. They asked if I knew it was false and I said I did not.

‘The whole thing took about half an hour. We finished about 10.30pm but then they said they needed to give me some paperwork about my overstaying so I waited for another hour in the cell.’

It is a situation Lolo risked the moment she knowingly stayed on in the country. She was charged last Wednesday with overstaying her visa and forging documents. She was bailed, without conditions, and asked to return to Chiswick police station on October 11.

Meanwhile, the Border Agency has given Lolo temporary leave to remain until March 23, 2010 but she has to report to the immigration office in Hounslow every Wednesday.

Alex says: ‘There is no suggestion of either of us going to court at the moment. I was arrested for being in contravention of the Immigration Act, Section 25, which means reasonably facilitating an individual who is illegal in the UK.

‘At my interview they said they were going to let me off with a caution, but they then came back and said they couldn’t find me on their records which seems crazy as I only got my new passport last Thursday.

‘They have asked me to return to the station next week and show them my passport and then that is at least one thing sorted out.’

It was reported yesterday that Lady Scotland called in the police after cash and jewellery vanished from her £2million home. But Scotland Yard told The Mail on Sunday they have no record of any complaint and are not investigating the matter.

Although there was no suggestion it has anything to do with Lolo, she was upset that the timing might implicate her.

She says: ‘Lady Scotland told me that she lost a Dunhill watch but that it was before I arrived. She said, “I’m not saying it’s you,” but asked me if I’d seen it anywhere. I don’t know anything about this jewellery and I have not been asked about it by anyone.’

As the story rumbles on, both Lolo and Alex know that their future is by no means certain. Lolo says: ‘I do not know what will happen. I know I didn’t want it to happen like this but I know too that I am telling the truth. That is all I can do.’ 

What employers need to see when employing migrant workers

A migrant from outside the EU must show a would-be employer at least one of these six documents:

  • A passport endorsed to show that the holder is allowed to stay in the UK and to do the type of work in question.
  • A new-style Biometric Immigration Document issued by the UK Border Agency, containing the same information.
  • A work permit or other approval to take employment, issued by the Home Office. This must be produced in combination with either a passport endorsed to say the holder may stay and work here, or a Home Office letter confirming that this is the case.
  • An Application Registration Card issued by the Home Office or UK Border Agency stating that the holder is permitted to take employment.
  • An Immigration Status Document issued by the Home Office or UK Border Agency with an endorsement indicating that the person can stay in the UK and is allowed to work. This must be shown in combination with an official document giving the person’s National Insurance number and name.
  • A letter issued by the Home Office or UK Border Agency which indicates that the person can stay in the UK and is allowed to do the work in question. This also must be produced with a document giving the person’s NI number and name.

Most cleaners earn £9 – and are strictly vetted by agencies

The average pay for a domestic cleaner in a London suburb such as Chiswick, where Baroness Scotland has a £2million home, is £9 per hour. Some charge £10.50 and pay is rarely below £8.50.

One cleaner, who advertises in West London, says: ‘I have had experience working in large, wealthy houses and I charge £10 per hour for that. It’s a kind of work you have to supply references for.’

Most well-off Londoners hire cleaners through agencies, which offer insurance as well as extensive vetting and immigration checks.

But there is also a less reputable cash-in-hand network, with several families placing posts on advertising websites looking to pay cleaners as little as £6 an hour.

Source: The Mail on Sunday

Immigration Matters Comment

The allegations in the Mail do not look good for Baroness Scotland, a Barrister, QC and Minister of the State and the government’s top legal adviser.

As one of the architects of the regulations she helped push through the Lords, one would expect her of all people to know better.

What it does prove is that any employer can make a mistake. However, the laws she helped create make now allowances for mistakes.

If she has failed to check documents, based on false assumptions that Ms Tapui was legally entitled to work then presumably many other employers must be in the same boat.

It seems the country’s top legal adviser assumed that being married to a UK resident gave her the automatic right to live and work in the UK –  a common error among mere mortals.

In light of this case, perhaps it’s time for the Home Office to start showing a little more compassion to migrant workers and employers who mistakenly fall foul of the complex immigration rules.

Related articles:

£5000 fine for Baroness Scotland over illegal employee

Government Minister ’employed illegal worker’ 

UK Border Agency ‘cleans up’ arresting three illegal immigrants at car wash

Employing illegal migrants could cost you £10,000 per worker

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