UK immigration minister Mark Harper has resigned from his post after it was revealed that his cleaner did not have a UK work permit in place.
In a letter to prime minister David Cameron, Harper explained that he had taken a copy of his cleaner's passport and seen a Home Office letter stating that she had the right to work in the country when he first employed her back in 2007.
However, it has since emerged that she did not have indefinite leave to stay in the UK. The facts came out when, last month, Harper's private office checked her details with immigration officials after he was unable to locate the original immigration documents.
While there has been “no suggestion” that the Conservative MP employed an illegal immigrant knowingly, his recent focus in Parliament has been to crackdown on employers and landlords who don't make sufficient checks on employee's immigration status, and the minister has stated that this approach makes the recent incident unacceptable.
In the letter to David Cameron, he wrote: “Although I complied with the law at all times, I consider that as immigration minister, who is taking legislation through Parliament which will toughen up our immigration laws, I should hold myself to a higher standard than expected of others.”
The prime minister has responded to accept the resignation “with regret” stating that he hopes the minister will return to the frontbench soon.
He added: “I understand your view that, although you carried out checks on your cleaner, you feel that you should hold yourself to an especially high standard as immigration minister.”
Employers are subject to fines for employing illegal workers. However, these can be avoided by ensuring that the correct right-to-work checks are carried out before someone is taken on.