Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Losing Letters in the Home Office

One of the key grey areas in the Budd inquiry into Blunkett in November/December 2004 concerned two missing faxes sent from his private office to the Director General of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate on 29 April 2003. These were part of a series of faxes and telephone calls from Blunkett’s office to the IND at the time when Leoncia Casalme’s case was being processed. Sir Alan Budd’s report said: ‘I conclude that one or more of the faxes and telephone calls related to Ms Casalme’s case. As the record shows, four faxes were sent from Mr Blunkett’s private office to IND on 29 April (x 2), 1 May and 2 May. I cannot discover which fax the P[rivate] S[ecretary] for Immigration is referring to in her email of 8 May, as these documents are no longer available’. It has never been explained how or why these key documents went missing – or why correspondence from the Home Secretary himself was not kept on file.

Now, move on a couple of years. By now, you would have thought that the Home Office would have put it's house in order and ensured that important bits of correspondence did not go missing. Sadly that doesn't appear to be the case. On Question Time a couple of weeks ago Sir Nicholas Winterton made an assertion about the Home Office and David Mills which Charles Clarke took issue with in a letter. His Special advisor emailed the letter to Sir Nicholas, and added at the bottom of the email: "Please reply directly to me so your reply doesn't get lost within the Home Office." Nothing's changed then. It's still the monolithic bureaucracy it always was, and quite capable of 'losing' correspondence when it's convenient.

No comments: