Illegal immigrant found cleaning Commons

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  1. Another triumph,

    Illegal immigrant found cleaning Commons

    "An illegal immigrant was able to work at the House of Commons using a fake identity pass in a serious breach of security.

    The Government stands accused of a cover-up after leaked documents, obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, showed that Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, was informed immediately of the case of the Brazilian woman, a cleaner, when she was arrested at Parliament 10 days ago. Yet the Home Office confirmed the security breach - one of the most serious to affect Westminster - only after being contacted by this newspaper last night.

    A letter marked "restricted" and "urgent" was sent to Mr Byrne and Lin Homer, who heads the Border and Immigration Agency, on January 31, warning them that a woman who had absconded from Heathrow airport three years earlier had been arrested at Westminster that day.

    Elaine Chaves Aparecida was detained by police after a random check on her security pass showed that it belonged to someone else. She had been working there, since December 3 last year as the employee of a ­cleaning company, Emprise Services.

    Under questioning, Miss Chaves, 31, admitted that she had run away from immigration officials at Heathrow Terminal 4 in December 2004 before she could be refused entry.

    The letter from Tony Smith, the regional director of the immigration agency, admits that officials still have no idea how the Brazilian came to obtain a Commons pass or even to whom it belonged.

    But, crucially, it predicts that the level of controversy will be "high" and advises ministers that they should take a "reactive approach" to the scandal.

    Jonathan Lindley, strategic director at the immigration agency, said last night: "All employers have a responsibility to check the legal status of workers they employ. Where the police arrest illegal workers, we will work hand-in-hand to secure their rapid removal from the UK."

    The breach comes only a few months after Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, was forced to admit that as many as 11,000 non-European Union nationals licensed to work in the security industry might be illegal immigrants. It was discovered that one of them had been responsible for overseeing Tony Blair's car while in repair.

    The Conservatives demanded urgent action to prevent fur­ther breaches. Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: "Of all the Home Office disasters, this has the biggest security implications.

    "Ministers like to talk tough about cracking down on emp­loyers but it is clear that the system is failing in our most sensitive buildings. What makes this even worse is that ministers' first instinct was to cover it up.

    "We need an immediate, full explanation of what is being done to prevent any repetition of this terrifying breach of security and a commitment from ministers to genuine openness.

    Miss Smith survived the foreign workers dispute at the end of last year after Downing Street said she had not made a mistake in failing to tell Gordon Brown of the news as soon as she discovered the lapse in August. She denied accusations of a cover-up.

    But the latest documents are likely will fuel that ministers are failing to come clean on a scandal, amid suggestions that the security industry is not the only one that might be employing illegal workers in Westminster.

    It is also potentially more embarrassing for the Government because it involves such a flagrant breech of Commons security. As a cleaner, Miss Chaves would have had widespread access to many areas of Parliament, including offices used by MPs and peers.

    It is not the first time that the security of Parliament has been called into question. In 2004 an undercover reporter reportedly smuggled a fake bomb into the Commons where he was working in the catering department and a Fathers 4 Justice campaigner threw purple flour packages at Mr Blair during Prime Ministers' Questions.

    The Commons authorities recently introduced a new entry system that requires the entering of a personal identification number after a pass is scanned. But the system was installed at the beginning of the year and questions will inevitably be asked of why the illegal worker could still gain entry using a stolen pass in January.

    Miss Chaves was due to be returned to Brazil last week after being held in detention."
  2. She is probably the most honest and useful person in the commons at the moment.

    Her absence will be felt by all.

  3. Done story