PM refuses to pass judgment on Baroness

Author: By Martha Linden, Press Association

Mr Brown said he would have to see the report on the case and hear what Lady
Scotland has to say following a BBC report that she is expected to be fined
after employing a housekeeper from Tonga who did not have the right to work
in the UK.

“I will have to see the report, I will have to look at it, I will have to
see what they actually say. The question is whether she knowingly did not
look at the passport or the documents of the person that she was employing
or whether she did do that but she did not keep a copy of the documents,”
he told GMTV.

“We will have to find out what has actually happened and I will have to
wait for that report this morning and she will want to answer the questions
that are put to her. We will have to make decisions.”

Immigration officials launched an investigation on Thursday after it was
revealed Lady Scotland employed an illegal migrant Tongan Loloahi Tapui.

The Government’s top law officer sacked her housekeeper after it emerged that
the 27-year-old was in the UK illegally.

It has been reported she has been living in Britain illegally for five years
after overstaying a student visa.

Lady Scotland, who has denied knowing Tapui did not have the right to work
here, could face a civil penalty of up to £10,000, according to reports.

Baroness Scotland has insisted that she had believed that Tapui was entitled
to work in Britain and said she had never knowingly employed an illegal
immigrant.

The Daily Mail reported that Ms Tapui had been looking after Lady Scotland’s
family home in west London for the past six months.

According to the paper, Ms Tapui has been living in Britain illegally for five
years after overstaying a student visa.

The revelation was an embarrassment to Lady Scotland, who attends the Cabinet
as the Government’s most senior law officer and is responsible for all court
litigation.

In a statement issued last week, Lady Scotland’s office announced that Ms
Tapui had been dismissed after details of her immigration status became
known.

“Baroness Scotland has never knowingly employed an illegal immigrant,”
said the statement.

“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.

“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.

“At no stage prior to the matter being raised today did Baroness Scotland
believe there was any question over Ms Tapui’s entitlement to work. Ms Tapui
has now been dismissed with immediate effect.”

Last week the Prime Minister’s spokesman said Mr Brown had “full
confidence” in the Attorney General.

He said Mr Brown was aware of the Attorney General’s response to the
revelations.

He said: “The Prime Minister is aware of the statement and has full
confidence in Baroness Scotland. He thinks she’s doing a very good job as
Attorney General.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne told BBC Radio 4’s Today
programme: “Given the fact that Baroness Scotland is the chief law officer
of the Government and law-makers shouldn’t be law-breakers, this is such an
embarrassing case I think she does have to consider her position.”

Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles told the programme: “I think she is
in a difficult position, but I think it is entirely typical of the Prime
Minister that when things are difficult he isn’t saying anything.

“I think she is not likely to survive much longer.”

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