Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Trouble With Baroness Scotland

When I was on the Richard Bacon Show last night the news came through that Baroness Scotland was in trouble for employing an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper. I made the point that if she was an American politician her resignation would follow within 24 hours but I doubted that would happen here. Now, I am not so sure. Her defence was that she had seen documents which appeared to prove the status of the housekeeper. But as Guido points out, that isn't actually a defence in a court of law. And if she isn't prosecuted, won't that set a precedent for other employers who, through maybe no fault of their own, find themselves in the same position. One rule for the rulers and one rule for everyone else?

Also, it is said that the woman concerned had been paying tax and has a National Insurance number. She was originally here on a student visa. Shouldn't there be a system for NI numbers to become invalid once a visa runs out? It's called joined up government.


john miller said...

I think you'll find the law in question is one of the "little people laws". Since 1997 ministers have been painstakingly converting "ordinary laws" into "little people laws".

Ordinary laws have the disadvantage of applying to everyone. The rather more popular - among ministers and celebrities - little people laws apply only to a certain section of society and are generally much more useful for just that reason.

Penfold said...

She'll have to go you know Iain, because if the boot was on the other foot we would never hear the end of this from Labour. There would be hand wringing, tears, vituperation and cries of economic exploitation.

What this shameful little episode does expose is the inability to police illegal workers, EVEN WHEN THEY PAY TAX AND NI.
What a firkin shambles.

Anonymous said...

Joined up government... surely this means that someone somewhere in Whitehall has to have a small degree of competence.

Competence and a Labour government - Don't think so.

Matthew Taylor said...

The penalties are generally civil - criminal sanctions reserved for really serious breaches - so potentially she could get served a penalty notice, pay it, and carry on. No criminal sanction.

Think they'd let her?

Jon Harvey said...

Joined up Government - hah! Don't get me started!

Hopefully the incoming administration will really make a difference here!!

The amount of waste that results from the lack of joined up Govt. is staggering.

FireForce said...

Well she is a good judge of character! She called Mugabe a man of honour, and a fair man, a man who would stick to his word, and not be a dictator.
Clearly it is not her fault!
Like all socialists, truth and socialism are very strange bedfellows.

Julian the Wonderhorse said...

So the Attorney General does not know the law?

That gives us a great deal of confidence in her abilities - it is not like they have to decide on anything important, like considering if wars are legal, for example.

Man in a Shed said...

Iain, NI numbers aren't even unique !

Anonymous said...

As has been pointed out elsewhere, being Labour, black, female (and called Scotland to boot), she is completely bulletproof and will have no action taken against her. Her only missing card is 'lesbian'.

zeno said...

Do you think she paid her cleaner at or above the Minimum Wage?

Unsworth said...

All sorts of hurdles here to be overcome before a prosecution can be brought. She's the wrong gender, ethnic origin, political affiliation, sexual inclination, and status in society.

She's nuclear proof.

moorlandhunter said...

Wonderful news that Labour is working well for themselves! It just goes to show how lax Labour has become over the issue of illegal workers.
I expect nothing else from this rag tag, corrupt, self serving, out of control government, with their stupid lies such as ‘no more boom and bust,’ ‘the Tories will cut, unlike us who will invest,’ and the many other lies and sleazy issues with which Labour has brought the country down on its knees.

Pete said...

IANAL but if she wasn't prosecuted, wouldn't that set a precedent for any subsequent cases?

Anonymous said...

Iain, liked your comment at the end 'joined up government' if only.


Anonymous said...

I know very little of the law and wonder if a private criminal prosecution would be possible here?

Cinna said...

Anonymous: 'Her only missing card is 'lesbian'.

Well, if that'e what it takes, no doubt she'll be out of the closet asap and thence off 'scot-free.'

Unsworth said...

@ Pete

Well you might also ask how many people have already been prosecuted under this particular legislation (apparently introduced by herself!). But maybe those who legislate are automatically exempt from prosecution.

President J Carter said...

All those people who believe that the Attorney General should be treated like every other person and be required to have documentary proof when employing a foreign national are obviously racists.

Robin B'stard MP said...

Whats all the fuss about? Aren't you used to this sort of thing from Labour people?

The questions we should be asking are "Was this job properly advertised and was this woman the best qualified for the job?"
If it was there will be a paper trail to follow.

If it wasn't, why not. Bearing in mind that the services of this woman (housekeeper) would have been paid for from Baroness Scotlands expences, ie the public purse, we have a right to know.

There are also security issues which need to be investigated.......the more i think about it the bigger a mess it seems to be......

I wonder how many other Labour "employees" have experienced a hasty departure this morning. One can almost hear the serial squeals of horror and door slamming as they are turfed out on their desperate acts of self preservation.

Anonymous said...

No, I'll tell you the problem with "Baroness" Scotland: the problem is that Labour swore blind they'd annihilate unelected aristocratic privilege and introduce true democratic accountability to the upper chamber.

Instead, they have stacked the House of Lords with any number of their toadies and placemen (or should I say "placewomyn"?) absolutely none of whom are remotely competent. The thieving "Baroness" Uday (whose troughing not even Dale will defend); the incompetent "Baroness" Amos (whose major qualifications for her post are her colour, her gender and her devotion to her party patrons); "Baroness" Scotland, the most senior lawyer in England and Wales but who is incapable of following the same rules we would expect of a corner shop.

Labour appoints kleptocrats and incompetents and relies on accusations of racism and sexim to silence all legitimate criticism (and, in the case of these buffoons, there is a lot of legitimate criticism).

JuliaM said...

"Bearing in mind that the services of this woman (housekeeper) would have been paid for from Baroness Scotlands expences, ie the public purse, we have a right to know. "

You mean....technically, we employed an illegal worker?!

Are there enough jails for us all, I wonder?

Anonymous said...

We don't want joined up gevernment.

God help us if we ever get it, given the desires of this government to tag everyone wherever they go and to record/control everything we do

Brian said...

"And if she isn't prosecuted, won't that set a precedent[?]" The precedent has already been set for not prosecuting the Nulab Nomenklatura.
As for Home Office and DWP sharing information, the Data Protection Act prevents it. Of course, no MP voted for that.
NI Numbers are unique.

Jimmy said...

When did Guido become this blog's legal adviser?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 13;21

Too right, joined up government is the last thing we need. Sparse, light touch, limited responsibility and low paid government is what's needed.

If egomaniacs want to explain to us how the world should be run they can start a blog, leave government to a small number of volunteers and do-gooders with at least GCSE Maths.

Buster G said...

This position is too important for a "token" appointment who wasn't even born in this country. Now that she has been described as a person "of the utmost integrity" by Keith Vaz, AND has the backing of Gordon Brown, she surely must go, preferably back to Dominica.

Anonymous said...

"Her only missing card is 'lesbian'." -- you missed out one legged

Anonymous said...

Joined up govt - now there's a fantasy.

Vienna Woods said...

A neighbour of mine is a Romanian citizen. He's lived here for almost 10 years. Sometime later he brought his wife and three kids here and by the grace of an elderly local man, has lived rent free in a small house adjoining my property. The kids are enrolled in school and the wife receives family allowances for them. During the whole time he has lived here this Romanian has never had an official job and is unregistered for work. Instead, he has been jobbing for "black" money which must net him a small fortune as he owns and drives a large 4x4 and has bought many new garden machines. Obviously he pays no taxes or national insurance and whenever his kids get sick then he pays a doctor privately.

How on earth is this possible? When someone gets caught employing him, they are fined but he remains free to carry on cheating every single tax payer.

It's OK chasing those who employ these people and I agree they should be dealt with severely, but why are we not going after the illegals and punishing them. After all they all know the rules and choose to ignore them.

Flemingcrag said...

Keith Vaz says she is an honourable woman, Gordon Brown has said he has fool (sorry, meant full) confidence in her...Do you still think she will go????

Incidentally, can anyone recall a court case where a charge was dropped against a person because they had made an honest mistake!!!

Tim Carpenter LPUK said...

This is an example of why this "law" is nonsensical and should be repealed.

If the person is not allowed to work here, then THEY are the ones committing a "crime". If a person presents false documents to someone, they are the ones committing fraud, not the person who they defraud with said documents.

The reason we have the current law is, AFAICT, due to Administrative Convenience - they need someone to threaten, sue and control. That should NEVER be a justification for law.

So, if Baroness Scotland hired the individual in good faith and has the documents that show it, there should be no case to answer. Considering what other crimes are being committed, other outrages, I would not want to urge pursuing the case even if documentation did not exist.

So, we have an existing, bad law for the convenience of Government "broken" by Baroness Scotland who supports and is an advocate for an Administration that systematically tramples freedoms for the sake of its own convenience through a never ending sewer of bad law.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Labour.

Tim Carpenter
Head of Policy
Libertarian Party, UK

Major Plonquer said...

What's the big deal? With so many laws and so much red tape it's entirely plausible that Mrs Scotland just forgot that she'd passed the law.

Does she have to remember everything?

Johnny Norfolk said...

Just imagine if it was a Tory minister the media would be all over it with a special programme on the BBC doing a full investigation.
As its a Labour minister it all appears to be all right.
Never tell me most of the media is not left leaning.

Horatius said...

People forget that the role of the Inland Revenue is to collect tax not to prop up Labour's failed immigration policy.

If a person is working here, even illegally, they have a statutory duty to collect tax and national insurance.They are charged by Parliament to do this. They would be in breach of their duty to say:"No you cannot have an NI number and tax code because you are an illegal immigrant."

So next time some one says "oh but (s)he was paying tax" please realise that that is totally irrelevant to the question of whether they were legal here.

Yes in theory it would be sensible to have joined-up government, but it would require huge computer systems - ID cards any one? And some of us might not like the surveillance state atmosphere.

English First said...

Cowardly senior BBC correspondent says, “It’s barmy ... Public servants can be sacked for membership of the BNP and yet the BBC wants to give them airtime with the main political parties.”

But its ok for Public Servants to thieve and lie though!! ie Politicians.

These stupid individuals, who incidentally are salaried by people just like me, just don`t get it do they? Arrogant fools!

Cynic said...

If she hasn't carried out the legally required checks and isn't prosecuted then every person who is prosecuted and isn't female or black should seek to seek to have their prosecution overturned on grounds of race or sex discrimination.

And the penalties for even a minor breach of the rules are very harsh - as Baroness Scotland should know as she was once the responsible Minister

So unless she has possession of the required copy documents and they look kosher, she needs to go - and go now.

Sad to see because she is actually one of the most competent Ministers among a dreadful bunch of worn out deadbeats. What was it Obama said? "Unimpressive"

Anonymous said...

"One rule for the rulers and one rule for everyone else?"

Certainly always been like that since 1066. The traitors of NuLab have simply adopted normal tory behaviour. Why still so surprised?

Anonymous said...

She is Perfect McLabour material!

Anonymous said...

Her boss pledged 'British Jobs for British Workers.' Why did she employ a foreigner?

Jimmy said...

"Shouldn't there be a system for NI numbers to become invalid once a visa runs out? It's called joined up government."

Some sort of compulsory id card perhaps?

I wonder why no-one ever thought of it before.

cassandra said...

So we have a socialist champion of the poor enjoying the 'perks' and cushy living of the toffs of old?

Animal farm was correct then!

The socialists just love their time honoured prejudices against their enemies, never mind that when presented with the opportunity to live like the toffs of old they are in like Flint.
The toffs of old enjoyed VIP living by earning their own money, the new socialist elite feel able to leach their toff living from the taxpayer.
During Scotlands adult life has she ever actually created wealth?
Like so many other two faced socialist parasites, they feed off the workers they profess to love, but this is the socialist paradox all over isnt it? You get the Benn/Kinnock dynasties with a bloated sense of family entitlement that would make a Victorian magnate blush.
The UK now has a growing new toff elite, showered with privilige and cushy head starts, they enjoy the good life although its often with a tacky and vulgar 'Swiss Toni(all the fine wines and Belgian chocolate yer can eat ducky)vulgarity'.
What I find disgusting is that while the old toffs would lord it around with their own cash, the new socialist jetset elite feel able to fund their lifestyles by leaching money from those least able to afford it!
Look how his Tonyness is a multi millionaire, how does his 'deep faith in socilist values' square with the fact that many in his old MP constituency live in abject poverty?
While Mr Bliar can now enjoy the life of a toff jetsetter the people who slavishly voted for him can barely afford to eat.
Just as Prescott feels that by sticking fake wood and turrets to his gaffe it will suddenly turn him into a high born lord of the manor landed gentleman, the new elite feel able to show off their new wealth and power in the most tacky and vulgar ways, shag pile kettle covers and zebra strip wall paper with candlelight suppers and servants included.

Meet the new toff, same as the old(only worse).

john miller said...

Ohh, Vienna Woods, I think you'll find this endemic throughout the EU.

You too can pitch up in France - it's only 20 miles away for God's sake - tell them you don't agree with their politics, don't agree with their religion, tell them you won't speak their languange, tell them you will kill all the homosexuals in France, stone all the women adulterers, demand a nice house and a nice car and there you are!

Unfortunately, it didn't work for me, but perhaps I was just being rude...

Andrew said...

This looks like yet another case of one criminal offence for the governed and one unfortunate, inadvertant technical breach of the rules for the Labour hierarchy.

They get worse by the day. So much for the moral compass.

Bardirect said...

Oh the irony:

From Hansard 11 Feb 2004 Columns1104/5

“Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, as I said, we shall shortly be revising the secondary legislation supporting Section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. As your Lordships know, that legislation deals with employers and the prevention of illegal working. It will strengthen the kinds of documentation that employers are required to check to comply with Section 8. This will make it easier for the Immigration Service to identify and prosecute non-compliant employers.”


JMB said...

There was an interview on the PM programme with a lady that acts an agency for domestic servants like this. She described how she checked out everyone and easy it is to do.

john miller said...

Having done a quick tour of the blogosphere, the following may - possibly - be true:

Baroness Scotland has broken the law regarding employment of illegal immigrants. This one is 100%.

She has sacked her housekeeper on illegal grounds. Evidently, being an illegal immigrant is not grounds for instant dismissal!

She has not "blown the whistle" and reported the illegal immigrant to the authorities.

I know 1 and 3 to be true, and I am indebted to Ken at the Coffee House for number 2.

Admittedly, these are only three reasons why the Baroness could be in trouble, a long way short of the 99 required for a Labour crony, but even so...

Anonymous said...

'Also, it is said that the woman concerned had been paying tax and has a National Insurance number. She was originally here on a student visa. Shouldn't there be a system for NI numbers to become invalid once a visa runs out? It's called joined up government.'

Yes, perhaps we should spend hundreds of millions of pounds on an IT system that links immigration status to the tax, NI and benefits systems. Sounds like a good idea when the country is practically bust, but just the sort of idiocy that the likes of Accenture are no doubt punting to the Tories as I write this. Please think before suggesting things like this - the next thing you know, they're in the manifesto and our hard-earned cash is lining consultants' pockets.

What exactly would it achieve? Would it help the authorities catch illegal immigrants? Would it stop them working? (Ever heard of 'cash in hand' or 'the black economy'?) Given that the chances of stopping them working are in fact zero, one might think that having them contribute to state coffers (especially now) isn't such a bad thing.

I'm sure one bit of government that will survive the arrival of the Tories relatively unscathed is the Home Office - UKBA (immigration - so untouchable, even though it's monstrously inefficient, and wasting money on IT schemes that will never work, hand over fist), the police (make UKBA look efficient, and again, regard themselves as untouchable, even though they're generally badly managed, underworked and very lazy - but keep picking on the postmen if you want, even though ACPO and the Police Fed make the CWU look reasonable), and the terrorism lot ('cut our budget if you want to be blamed for a bomb in a big city'). Only the ID card looks dodgy, and I personally don't trust the Tories to pull the plug on that once the consultants have had a word.

So, no offence, but you have no idea what you're on about.

Jimmy said...

@Tim Carpenter,

I think you have misunderstood the law (you're far from the only one). This was made a criminal offence under the tories in the 1996 act. The present government have decriminalised it and replaced it with a civil penalty.

Dimoto said...

With all the dubious baggage the Scotland woman carries, it is laughable that she should be nailed by something as trivial as this.
In a sane country, an illegal who has been working continuously for five years, paying her taxes and behaving as a good citizen, should be granted a work visa as a matter of course.

Auntie Flo' said...

"This was made a criminal offence under the tories in the 1996 act. The present government have decriminalised it and replaced it with a civil penalty." (Jimmy)

Can you tell me when this change was made,Jimmy, because I've looked at the government guidance booklets I have up to 2004 and the offence is still a criminal one in these.

Home Office 2004 guidance booklet:

"Under section 8 of the 1996 Act, it is a criminal offence to employ an individual who was subject to immigration control who has no permission to work in the UK, or his employment is in breach of their conditions of stay in the UK.

Any employer in breach of section 8 is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £5,000 per illegal worker. The Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 ("the 2004 Act") made this summary offence triable either way and, therefore, any employer prosecuted in respect of this offence could receive an unlimited fine in the Crown Court.

However, section 8 of the 1996 Act allows an employer to establish a statutory defence against conviction if, before the employment began, the employer had carried out the required checks of the potential employee's original documentation and he is satisfied the employees have the required immigration permission.

Copies of the documentation must be kept for the employer's records. An employer could not rely on the statutory defence if it had made the relevant checks but knew that the individual was not entitled to work in the UK. "

Auntie Flo' said...

Is it true that the baroness is refusing to state which documents she saw which she believed verified her housekeeper's right to work in UK?

Is it also true that she has refused to produced copies of these documents - copies which she is legally obliged to keep and, which provide the only possible legal defence against prosecution for employing an illegal worker?

The public have the right to know.

Auntie Flo' said...

Is it true that the baroness is refusing to state which documents she saw which she believed verified her housekeeper's right to work in UK?

Is it also true that she has refused to produced copies of these documents - copies which she is legally obliged to keep and, which provide the only possible legal defence against prosecution for employing an illegal worker?

The public have the right to know.

Roger Thornhill said...


I think you miss the point I am making. I reject the very idea that the current law is rational or reasonable.

It would not surprise me that it has become a civil "fine" which is an absurd idea considering the entities concerned. I wonder how long the original law would survive if it remained as a criminal act.

Jimmy said...

"Can you tell me when this change was made,Jimmy,"

The criminal offence was repealed when the civil penalty was brought in.

Auntie Flo' said...

The Baroness's claim that she was mislead by her illegal employee is a smoke and mirrors attempt to shift the blame to the employee.

The Baroness was 110% aware that she was requird by law to see and copy the prospective employee's passport, including its visas.

The Baroness would have been 110% clear too that if the prospective employee could not produce a valid passport, with visas or stamps giving the employee the right to work in UK, then the Baroness could not employ her even for an hour.

Employers who adhere to the law on prevention of illegal working - who see and copy relevant documents from the list of specified by the law - cannot be mislead and will not be prosecuted.

Employers who do not both see and copy the relevant documents - or who see these and knowingly ignore, say, that visas in passports expired long ago - have only themselves to blame when they are caught out and prosecuted. These employers are as guilty of breaking the law and of deception as their illegal employees.

Employers who knowingly choose to ignore expired visas in the passports of illegal workers are, I believe, guilty of a criminal offence, not a civil one

Auntie Flo' said...


I've checked up to 2008 and can find no mention of the repeal of the criminal offence: could you post a Home Office quote on this?

Auntie Flo' said...



I still can't find this repeal.
What date was the law repealed? Very recently? That date could presumably be relevent to this case?

Auntie Flo' said...


LSE Website:

"Prevention of illegal working
Sections 15 - 26 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 came into force in February 2008.

Under the 2006 Act, employers are liable to payment of a civil penalty for employing persons who are subject to immigration control and who have no permission to work in the United Kingdom.

Additionally, it is a **criminal offence** to knowingly employ someone who is not permitted to work in the UK."

starring is mine

Auntie Flo said...

Roger Thornhill,

Good point. When I last had an illegal job applicant to report, both the Home Office and the police told me that they were not responsible for apprehending illegals any longer.

Has the law perhaps been changed to allow, say, ACPO Ltd (formerly known as 'the police': Association of Chief Police Officers, turnover £17 million to £19 million a year)to accreditate (sell?) these powers to a subcontract agency?

Jimmy said...


If you look at the repeals schedule to the 2006 act you will find section 8 of the 96 act is there.

Auntie Flo' said...


Thanks, though I still can't find this. However I note the BBC News online also states that those who knowingly employ an illegal worker are in breach of the criminal law, not civil law. So the repeal must have been a selective process.

I've seem newspaper articles where the Baroness is said to have stated that she was misled. Others, however, suggest that she accepted a marriage certificate as proof of ID and accepted Mrs Tapui's right to work here 'in good faith'.

None of that helps her situation of course. If the Baroness engaged an employee who did not have the right to work here without doing the mandatory, statutory checks and keeping the statutory proof of that, she has broken the law and deserves to suffer the statutory consequences.

Jimmy said...


It's here:

Seems pretty clear to me unless I'm missing something, but I haven't seen the SI bringing it into force.