Attorney-General sacks housekeeper alleged to be illegal immigrant
Sam Coates and Sadie Gray
From The Times
September 17, 2009
The Attorney-General has dismissed her Tongan housekeeper after claims were made that she was an illegal immigrant.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal was said to have taken on Loloahi Tapui, 27, six months ago, believing that she was entitled to work in this country.
The law on hiring illegal immigrants imposes upon employers a duty to verify the status of their workers. To employ an illegal worker knowingly carries a two-year prison sentence and an unlimited fine. To employ an illegal immigrant unknowingly carries a 10,000 fine.
The Attorney-Generals spokeswoman said that she had never knowingly employed an illegal immigrant: She hired Ms Tapui in good faith and saw documents which led her to believe that Ms Tapui was entitled to work in this country.
The allegations will be an embarrassment to Baroness Scotland, who was a Home Office minister when legislation restricting the rights of foreign migrants to work in Britain was passed in 2006.
Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: This is a government that says all small employers should be prosecuted if they dont know the immigration status of their employees and yet we have senior ministers who cant be bothered to make the checks themselves.
There is a real one rule for them, one rule for us attitude at the heart of this Government and it is a disgrace.
Ms Tapui, who was employed to look after the Attorney-Generals family home in West London, had lived in Britain illegally for five years after overstaying her student visa, the Daily Mail claimed. She was dismissed from her job as soon as the allegations emerged.
Baroness Scotlands spokeswoman said: At no stage prior to the matter being raised today did Baroness Scotland believe there was any question over Ms Tapuis entitlement to work.
Ms Tapui lives locally and is understood to be married to a British national. Prior to being hired by Baroness Scotland, she was in registered employment.
She is registered for tax and insurance. Baroness Scotland has paid tax and national insurance in relation to her employment.
Ms Tapui has now been dismissed with immediate effect.Baroness Scotland has been a minister since 1999, working in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Lord Chancellors Department.
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