UK Immigration minister resigns over cleaner’s visa status

Archana Venkatraman

In an ironical move, UK’s Immigration Minister Mark Harper, who took the 2013 Immigration Bill through Parliament, has had to quit after finding out that his cleaner did not have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK.

Mark Harper, immigration minister quits over cleaner's visa status
Image: Wikimedia Commons (ukhomeoffice)

Harper employed his cleaner in 2007 after checking her ILR papers but did not conduct any additional checks for the next seven years. When he conducted the latest check in 2014, he found out that the cleaner, in fact, had no ILR.

He offered to resign immediately and informed the Home Secretary and immigration enforcement authorities as soon as he found out his cleaner’s visa status. 

Harper offered his resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron on February 8. In his letter to the PM, he insisted that he performed all the due work eligibility checks before employing the cleaner in 2007. The Home Office has clarified that Harper did not knowingly employ an illegal immigrant.

“I took a copy of her passport to verify her identity and also a copy of a Home Office letter which stated that she had leave to remain indefinitely in the UK, including the right to work and engage in a business,” he wrote.

But despite having shown him the papers claiming she had ILR, Harper found out in January that cleaner did not have the right to be in the UK permanently.

Harper admitted that after checking ILR papers in 2007, he did not re-check his cleaner’s papers again in 2010 or in 2012. But as he was pushing the latest Immigration Bill through the Parliament in autumn 2013, he decided to do a second check on his cleaner.

“In retrospect, I should have checked more thoroughly,” he added in his letter to Cameron.

In his response, Cameron accepted Harper’s resignation and agreed that “Although you carried out checks on your cleaner, you should hold yourself to an especially high standard as Immigration Minister.”

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