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The baroness and the illegal immigrant

Nick Robinson | 11:30 UK time, Tuesday, 22 September 2009

VIP suite, Heathrow airport: No prime ministerial trip abroad would be complete without trouble brewing at home. Gordon Brown has the minor matters of the threat to the global economy, the planet, and peace and security to address in New York and Pittsburgh in the next few days.

Baroness ScotlandHowever this morning, his thoughts have had to be on the baroness and the illegal immigrant. The prime minister has decided not to sack his attorney general on the grounds that she did not "knowingly" employ an illegal immigrant. His aides have dubbed this a technical breach of the law. In truth, it is a breach plain and simple, since not knowing a worker is illegal is no defence under the law which Baroness Scotland helped to pilot through Parliament.

Mr Brown quotes the UK Border Agency and the cabinet secretary in his explanation on why he has backed, and not sacked, his attorney general.

Of course this was, in reality, like all such decisions, a political judgement, about the value of the individual concerned, the seriousness of the offence and the political cost of losing her against keeping her.


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  • Comment number 1.

    We've seen it all before - once again GB is hoisted on one of the many Nulabour petard's

  • Comment number 2.

    I accdientaly went through a red light only very marginally though Dickie bird would have had trouble calling it result 3 points and £450 fine.

    One law for those that are believed to have some use and one for the rest of the working class.

    It show total lack of polictical judgement and might well fuel the move from SNAFU_Labour to the BNP for those that refuse to vote lib or Tory ?

  • Comment number 3.

    Scotland should do Macavity Brown a big favour and quit now to save him more embarrassment.

    How can the attorney general continue to enjoy the confidence of the prime minister and keep her high office with a £5,000 fine on her record? The country's top law officer has broken the law, been fined and should be sacked.

    But it seems there's one law for the masses and one rule for the ruling elite, making a mockery of meritocracy.

    Ignorance was no defence in the eyes of this law. Scotland should do the decent thing. Surely she's toast?

  • Comment number 4.

    What a farce! She made the law, she broke the law, she has been punished severely under the law (£5000.00 fine) but her life goes on the same. It's a travesty and just about defines this whole government.
    And.... because she is an unelected minister she does not even have to face her electorate!

  • Comment number 5.

    Keith Vaz has just been telling the BBC how grateful he is that this matter has been dealt with quickly, he feared it would drag on for weeks for it to be fully investigated.

    He claims it was investigated without fear or favour - would anybody facing similar claims have a resolution so quickly, or was this in fact favour?

    The fact is this has been rushed through and a decision rushed out just as Brown leaves the country...

    Mr McCavity again.

  • Comment number 6.

    Really no shock here, the only surprise is that it has taken this long for it to be said. The only way you are sacked in this government is if you criticise the PM or the "real PM". Breaking a law that you created is not seen as important enough to resign or be sacked for.

  • Comment number 7.

    Anybody know what the good Baroness was paying her skivvy?

  • Comment number 8.

    So we have the people who force these laws on us making rookie mistakes. I am listening to Keith Vaz on 5 live saying, right now, one thing that Baroness Scotland wouldn't do is photocopy her own documents.

    What world do they live in?

    This is the world they have created for the rest of us.


  • Comment number 9.

    So Gordon makes his final transition from Brown to Yellow.

    The Ministerial Code says quite clearly that a minister MUST NOT breach the law. That's all it says. She has, so why hasn't she gone? Could easily be her sex, or her skin colour (or both), but I suspect its more to do with Gordon's absolute refusal to be seen to retreat, or change his mind, or admit mistakes. Pig-headed stubbornness we used to call it. My 3 year old son has it in droves! Of course, its a good thing to have when you're right, but when you are so often wrong then it becomes a liability - as in this case.

  • Comment number 10.

    Did I dream it,

    or was there a time, when I was a younger man, when a politician in Baroness Scotland's position (ie. with a job at the top the law & order infrastructure)would have found it absolutely untenable to ramin in her position after such a conviction (& the fine makes it very clear no matter Gordon & co spin it, the law was broken.

    You know what i'm talking about, a time when 'taking responsibilty for your actions' implied the intention to resign?

    Did I dream it?

    Or is the behaviour of todays scandal ridden politicians of a considerably lowercalibre & standard of honour than in times gone by?

  • Comment number 11.

    What is the difference between a technical breach of the law and a breach of the law? Answer: the former is committed by members of the Establishment and the latter by the plebs. If ever evidence was needed that Gordon Brown's alleged moral compass has gone awry, this is it, for a moral position should see through such technicalities.

  • Comment number 12.

    She should go and go now. She has broken the Law that she helped through Parliament that states that innocence is no defence. I thought Gordon Brown could not stoop any lower but this is just too much. Shameless behaviour by a busted flush of Prime Minister and one of his team. Please Mr Brown, sack this Minister and then resign yourself as this is hypocricy of the highest order - I can't wait for a similar case to come before the courts to see what the judgement will be.

  • Comment number 13.

    If the law is to mean anything, then it has to be applied equally to everyone.

    If it is done in such a zero tolerance manner, placing the full emphasis and responsibility on the individual employer to ensure full compliance with the law, then the employers need to be supported in this. How many people on here could tell the difference between forged papers and real ones ? This approach, however, was omitted by the government.

    Unfortunately, Baroness Scotland has been on the receiving of her own departments legislation, and I think it would be fair to say that she doesn't like it very much. I'd like to think that she will reflect on the reasonableness of this legislation, though I doubt that she will. This will be dismissed as another "difficulty" for a politician. Other employers caught in a similar manner will not be so lucky. This is no ordinary employer but a person with responsibility for making our laws.

    This does nothing to reduce the gap between the political classes and the electorate. Her position is totally untenable, how can she possibly stay in her current position ? The law has to have the respect of the people and likewise though who make the laws. This is deeply damaging to the whole legal system.

    She should resign, and if she won't the she should be sacked. Gordon Brown has shown his usual predictable level of judgement on this one. Judgement wise, he never fails to deliver exactly what we expect of him.

  • Comment number 14.

    Typically response from a seedy crowed of bad administrators brown in particular no guts for sacking her or following the law she herself implemented just goes two show one law for Joe public and one for the so called aristocracy No justice call an election now, and lets start a new leaf for gods sake.

  • Comment number 15.

    Baroness Scotland is adamant that she saw the required documents. If she saw them then they must exist. If they exist then there will be records of Visas with the Home Office. This doesn't seem to be the case.

    So either the AG is lying or she saw forgeries. But Tapui's passport had been recovered and there are no forgeries, only an expired visa. So are we to believe that as well as a convincing forged visa, Tapui also had a forged passport. All seems a bit much for an £8ph cleaner.

  • Comment number 16.

    Can I just point out that this privilaged person has has nothing to do with Scotland, heavens knows where they thought this title up from and quite frankly I don't care. I doubt if the lady in question has ever travelled on business / holiday to this part of the country. I'm sure she can easily afford to pay for her mis-demeanours, sorry that would refer to it perhaps being plural.....

  • Comment number 17.

    the law that Lady Scotland herself put through parliament states that even unknowingly employing an illegal is still an offence, punishable by a £10,000 fine.
    if i "unknowingly" break the speed limit in my car can I use the "Baroness Scotland "defence"..... she was warned when introducing this legislation that it was unfair, she is now hoisted on her own petard...
    no one has mentioned the security aspects, i presumed an employee of the Attorney General would have to be be vetted... and anyway are not all foreign nationals supposed to carry the infamous ID card?.........rather proves the point about ID cards being a total waste of time and money...

  • Comment number 18.

    I started to write my comment on this, but on reading it back I found that it broke the house rules. So I censored myself.

  • Comment number 19.

    What I find surprising is that it was legislation bought in by her (or her ministry) that she has fallen foul of. As a small employer I was sent the form from DWP outlining everything, which she would also have been sent when she registered as an employer.

  • Comment number 20.

    One law for them (ie anything goes) and a multitude of pointless laws for us punishable by your ruination in society.

    Baroness Scotfree must go NOW! Let's not forget the 170,000.00 she pocketed from us as well!

  • Comment number 21.

    If it had been anyone else in any other position, it might have been acceptable to keep them in post. She is attorney general and it was her law that she took through Parliament. For her to remain in post simply demonstrates that she is a person without any sense of honour who by that fact is not fit to hold public office.

  • Comment number 22.

    Wow, a blog where I can use the words "Baroness" & "Scotland" without upsetting the thought police!! The reason taht she has been backed rather than sacked is because she doesn't have the integrity to resign and Gordon doesn't have the courage to sack her.

    This epitomises everything that is wrong with Labour, theer are no depths of incompetence or criminality that will trigger a resignation or sacking from one of these leeches.

    "Off Topic" though I'm sure this post will be deemed to be, I might as well mention the standard of moderation on the BBC blogs -it's pathetic.

  • Comment number 23.

    Is there a difference in the ammount of money ministers get by being reshuffled instead of resigning?Because with her expenses being looked at she might need all she can get out of the tax payer.

  • Comment number 24.

    An Attorney who in a previous ministerial role introduces legislation and is then found to be in breach of it. There is no such thing as an 'inadvertent' or 'technical' breach. Either there is a breach or there is not. She has admitted she broke the rules. She cannot remain as the senior law officer - her professional credibility is compromised; this could prejudice her standing in future actions. For the sake of upholding the importance of her office she must resign. Her position is not tenable.

  • Comment number 25.

    She should go, and I am a Labour supporter as a rule. The reason is the overwhemning impression from Banker's Bonuses to Minister's Mistakes that the government always thinks Top People must get away with it. She actually put the legislation through, for goodness' sake!

  • Comment number 26.

    I can only hope that she doesn't try to claim the 5,000 fine on her expenses ......

  • Comment number 27.

    At last, something directly relevant from within the bubble.

    Laws, like taxes are obviously for little people. Certainly not for the current incumbents.

    Most damaging of all, Nicholas....

    "Of course this was, in reality, like all such decisions, a political judgement, about the value of the individual concerned, the seriousness of the offence and the political cost of losing her against keeping her."

    Thats alright then, isnt it? Someone who falls foul of, or choses to wilfully breach a law she herself helped guide onto the statute book is worth more inside the tent than outside. Never mind honour and integrity. By this action, the Prime Minister of the UK and Northern Ireland has effectively given licence for MP's and peers to completely disregard the laws of the land.

    Is there anything, absolutely anything, even in remote sight of the PM's strong moral compass that WOULD constitute a dismissible offence?

    Oh and by the way Nick, any mention of her 170,000 expenses???

  • Comment number 28.

    Ignorance is no defence in Law

    By being convicted her position is untenable, and she should now be disbarred

    In political terms it would appear that she did not read the legislation that she pushed through the house, otherwise she might have been made aware.

    The Baroness says that when she employed the illegal she saw the valid passport, but the border agency (when they had smashed down the door of the illegal's flat) say that they only recovered an out of date passport. The information does not give the date at which it ran out. It could also be said that the illegal would have required at least 6 months on her passport to be able to stay in the UK, which adds further to the whole

    Since Brown wishes to retain her services, maybe he could call an early general election so that the electorate can give their opinion

    Until then, we can write to the Baroness via her website

  • Comment number 29.

    Does it matter whether she is sacked or has the decency to resign?

    It just shows how poor is the judgement of the current lot in power. To actually be responsible for introducing laws that you then don't follow yourself.

    It ought to begger belief but it doesn't.

    I wonder Nick, whether you ever give an 'opinion'? Do you think Brown ought to sack Scotland? Do you think Scotland ought to resign? Do you think its shows poor political judgement if neither of those things happen?

    Or isn't this that sort of a blog?

  • Comment number 30.

    Nice to see you've finally caught on to this story, Nick.

    There is, of course an enormous, gaping inconsistency in the story the government is spinning us here. We are told that she did not "knowingly" employ an illegal immigrant. We are also told that she checked the relevant documents.

    If she checked the relevant documents, then given that she is something of an expert in immigration matters, she would have been perfectly well aware that her cleaner was not entitled to work here.

  • Comment number 31.

    Oh come on....

    What more does she have to do before she loses her job?

  • Comment number 32.

    This just one of the problems with having unelected political appointees acting as ministers.

    If an elected politcian breaks the law then at least the public gets the chance to vote them out. In this case Brown has been too spineless to do the right thing and the voters will never get to have their say.

    New Labour - whiter than white (except when we break the law)

  • Comment number 33.

  • Comment number 34.

    More "do as we say, not as we do" hypocrisy from ZaNuLabour. No party in recent times has done more to corrupt British public life. But what else could we expect from the man who emptied our pension funds to pay for Bliar's illegal wars?

    The election clock is ticking, unless Brown finds a pretext for declaring Martial Law before May. It will be for our own good. He needs more time to "get on with the job" of turning Britain into Zimbabwe.

  • Comment number 35.

    #5 I have just had to supply my agent with company and vat certs and passport to prove I'm eligable to work here, having been born here 45 years ago, lived worked and breath the air , looked at the green and pleasant land that Sir WSC held involate 70 years ago.

    I was threatened with none payment of invoices etc ?

    Also I was investigated by the police on another very minior issue it took them 10 weeks to complete, so a baroness ca nbe fast tracked then ?

    though the police etc were indepentant etc. What about the tory MP that had his offices raide etc. Seems odd ??????

  • Comment number 36.

    The government makes a law to fuzzy and complicated that the minister who wrote the law manages to break it. What hope is there for the rest of us.

    And to be fined for 'unknowingly' breaking a law brings us back to the old joke: If we have not specifically declared something legal; it's illegal. (Was ita Russian or the East German who said that?)

    So, to clear up this mess... You're ALL under arrest.

    Oh, England! The joke of the Western world

  • Comment number 37.

    I like the sound of this not knowingly blah blah defence. This means that I can now go out and get ratted, of an evening, and do anything I like as I won't be doing any of it knowingly.
    This is standard procedure in Glasgow I'm told. That's why this woman has the 'Scotland' soubriqet.

  • Comment number 38.

    "A technical breach of the law"

    What other sort of breach is there?

    Of course, £5,000 is chickenfeed to these people, probably a day's expenses, but could be the final straw for a business caught by this legislation.

  • Comment number 39.

    Since the crux of the issue seems to be that copies of the checked documents were not kept, how has it been possible to prove that they were in fact checked?

    Frankly, there is no such thing as a "technical breach" of the law. It is either broken or it is not. It is also interesting to observe that lack of intent to break a law is not usually a defence.

  • Comment number 40.

    How can she stay in office ? this government and mr Brown in particular are a joke .. im sick of listening to the excuses given by the man , she broke the rules that she was instrumental in setting up ! that in itself should be enough to fall on her sword , but hey this is gords team and if you notice not elected by us , like Lord Mandy its a downright disgrace , please bring on the election asp please please someone help this country .

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    And will the £5000 fine be claimed against Baroness Scotland expenses?

  • Comment number 43.

    It is hardly fair to criticise Robinson for not giving an opinion. He does his job so well that I don't think I can ever tell what his opinion is- this is what we want from the BBC. He treads the Fine Line well, and gives all sides what for when they deserve it, which is most of the time.

  • Comment number 44.

    #4 The only thing I would disagree with you on is that she has been punished severely.

    Ignorance is never an excuse but I would understand that in most cases an individual would not be expected to understand every nuance of the law BUT she is a lawyer, she is the Attorney General and she was involved in creating the law so she should have known. For these reasons irrespective of how cooperative she was or track record she should have had the maximum fine.

    Whether or not she stays in the government is a matter firstly for her and if she has a shred of morality she would resign or secondly for Gordon Brown who if he had any moral courage or sense of right and wrong would sack her.

    As for the PMs reasons for not sacking her I think his political compass must be pointing in the wrong direction too. A relatively little known member of the government has now become a major story, which judging by the above comments is universally disapproved of. By sacking her now he would kill the story. Maybe he knows that he won't be able to find a replacement - rats don't generally jump onto sinking ships.

  • Comment number 45.

    I have just written to Baroness Scotland as follows...if i get a reply i will let you know, but do not hold your breath.

    Dear Madam
    Perhaps you will enlighten the legal profession as to the difference between a "technical breach" and a "breach" of a law?
    Also given the "Baroness Scotland defence" of not committing a crime 'intentionally".. I hope the next time I unintentionally break the speed limit, no fine will be imposed.
    I hope you will do the honourable thing and resign immediately, repaying your overpaid expenses before you leave.

  • Comment number 46.

    Is it also true that the ”housekeeper” will apparently be able to stay
    (notwithstanding her original illegal status) under Art 4 of the Human Rights Act as she has now married a naturalised British Citizen and to deport her would deprive her of her rights to a family life?

  • Comment number 47.

    A question? Does this mean that she has a criminal record of any sort? If so, does that preclude her from holding office?

  • Comment number 48.


    Another shameful episode in our nation's history.

    And a classic quote from Labourlist's Alex Smith "lifted" from Guido's site:

    “Every time I pick up a newspaper, my heart sighs at the thought of what I am about to read – because I don’t always trust the government to tell the truth on my behalf either.

    It’s a sorry, humiliating, state of affairs and it’s getting sorrier and more humiliating every day.”

  • Comment number 49.

    redrobb: "Can I just point out that this privilaged person has has nothing to do with Scotland, heavens knows where they thought this title up from and quite frankly I don't care. I doubt if the lady in question has ever travelled on business / holiday to this part of the country."

    It's the surname of her parents that she acquired at birth. Are you suggesting that people whose surnames are placenames are not entitled to them if they've never been there?

  • Comment number 50.


    "It is also interesting to observe that lack of intent to break a law is not usually a defence."

    IANAL, but my understanding is that for a great many laws, lack of intent is indeed a perfectly legitimate defence. However, this particular law on employing illegal immigrants was written as "strict liability", which means you are guilty whether or not you intended to break the law. That was criticised by many at the time as being unfair and posing an unreasonable burden on small employers.

    Perhaps the Baroness, who introduced this law, can now see what those criticisms were about.

  • Comment number 51.


    Can you cast any light on why the BBC has not picked up the Sunday Times' story this week about Scotland overclaiming to the tune of £170,000 on her expenses? Are the BBC colluding in keeping the heat off Scotland?

  • Comment number 52.

    Friends, chill out. So much anger and dismay - and at what? Something all of us would have expected to happen.

    There is no possibility, even a remote one, that any Minister caught doing something wrong, whether knowingly or not, whether elected or not, is ever going to get sacked by this Prime Minister. You just have to look at the track record. He even brought back someone who has had to resign twice before, made them a Lord and de facto Prime Minister, for goodness sake.

    I wonder what they've all got on him??

  • Comment number 53.

    This was not a technical breah of the law, Baroness Scotland broke the law and should resign.

    There can be no negotiation or mitigating circumstances here, she broke the law.

    We can only hope she will have this crime firmly on her criminal record as a citizen.

    Once again under Brown, Labour protect their own but anyone else can go and rot. Well the sooner Labour are left out in the cold to suffer like ordinary citizens of this once free democracy the better.

    Brown and his grovelling yes men have shown their is no honour left in this country and its everyone out for themselves.

  • Comment number 54.

    When does an offence against the law become " technical " as distinct from " criminal" ? Answer. When it involves a Nu Labour acolyte. A fine of £5000 is one seventh of the amount she is alleged to have taken annually for the last five years as expences for her home in London, which is and always has been her main residence, though apparently this is within the rules. If the attorney General can break the law and escape with a fine which to her is a pittance, then law and order in this country is truly a joke.

  • Comment number 55.

    Another labour snout in the trough that seems to think that the law is for us little people. So as well as the law not applying, I notice that in her case the MPs expenses rules don't either. The word hypnocrite springs to mind - not for the first time in relation to Labour politicians either.

    And as usual Gordon's moral compass doesn't seem to match the moral compass of anyone else on the planet - perhaps he'll show some integrity someday, rather than simply being a coward.

  • Comment number 56.

    One law for the ruling elite, one law for the rest of us.

    Two legs good, four legs bad.

    No-one can now seriously be expected to adhere to this law now - a law the Baroness introduced & then proceeded to drive a coach & horses with footmen attached through it.

    But please BBC, can we get it straight - this was not "an administrative oversight" or a "technical breach of the rules" - it is a breach of the Law.

  • Comment number 57.

    Sgt Howie opens the desk. Inside is the tiny figure of Mr Brown, shuffling along, he is tied to a piece of string which is tied to a nail.

    The girl at the next desk looks and giggles..."...round and round he goes, always the same way, until he ends up tight against the nail, poor thing".

    I wonder, Nick, if you could ask Brown to differentiate between his condemnation of the (legal) actions on expenses by some Labour MPs which led to their sacking from ministerial posts and disbarring from standing as Labour MPs and the (illegal) employment of an illegal immigrant which is, apparently, fine.

    Brown's logic belongs in a world only he inhabits.

  • Comment number 58.

    The issue is not the decision, because it is in line with the penalty.
    It is with the fact that our political class paint themselves as the great and the good and are supposed to not make these kind of mistakes.

    How do we trust an official who cannot implement the same rules that she insists are required as the law of the land.
    Confidence is our issue and she just lost it.
    Step down or be removed.

  • Comment number 59.

    Here we go again: one rule for them and one rule for the rest of us.

    I objected to the 2006 Act as it shifted the entire responsibility for policing the immigration policy from the state to the employer. This was a grotesque admission of failure. However, I am told it did help to rescue the photocopying equipment industry.

    I find it obscene that if I employ someone in this country that they have to produce evidence to me of their `right' to work here? Was this the hidden logic behind Jack Dromey's Right to Work March back in the early Seventies? I am always happy to employ someone as work is good for people so why should the government choose to make it difficult? We have a two page list now showing the specific provenance required before we can give someone a job. It is ludicrous!

    I am over the moon that a government minster has been caught by their own Act particularly one as regressive as this one. I always suspected that the reason New Labour wanted more immigrants was to allow them to afford domestic help in their taxpayer-funded mansions; now soon to be taxed by Vince Cable.

    No: I won't hold my breath waiting for the resignation.

  • Comment number 60.

    We are told that ignorance of the law is no excuse. The attorney general has no excuse to be ignorant of the requirements of this law and yet has treated her responsibilities in a very cavalier manner. She is clearly unsuited to the position she holds and should resign immediately.

  • Comment number 61.

    How come she can afford to pay the fine so quickly. She can' have got a bank loan that fast!
    Do not tell she had £5k lying around - blimey how the other half live.
    It the same as Steven Gerrard - self defence - oh yeh.
    Money talks.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    It's really rich, but not unexpected.

    There are plenty of people out there (amongst us plebs, in other words) who've been fined because they were in technical breach of the law. Most of them (like restauranteurs or shop-keepers or manufacturers) have been fined, but not barred from continuing to do their jobs.

    It's a bit hard to apply different rules to Minsters. EXCEPT that the good Baroness actually steered this legislation through Parliament.
    If she couldn't be bothered to apply it to her own dealings, how can you convince others to do so?
    The law - this law - does not allow that any error or omission is a defence. One that the Baroness presumably knew inside out before forcing it through?

    Of course, in her case, we've paid an enormous amount in "legitimate" expenses for her to live in her house (170K, I read), so I guess the odd GBP5,000 doesn't really mean much.

    Bit different for a small business, where 5K makes the difference between survival or failure. So what? Another small business fails? But we collected the tax take to prop up some other "government initiative"..

    (By the way, I never understood why Mandelson wasn't hammered when he failed to declare to his mortgage company that a major part of his "deposit" was actually an interest-free loan from a mate. Not sure whether that was "equality" as understood by we little-people.)

    Hey, ho. Guess that's life.

    Bit like us having to pay towards a 270MIL building to house the future "president" of the EU. A tiny bit of humility would be quite a good thing amongst our political masters. Surely, somewhere in Brussels or Strasbourg there's a grand enough property to house this bunch of un-elected bureaucrats? (No. Forget that Strasbourg bit. They should never have to trek up and down - at our expense - just to sustain France's desire to be fed even more from this expensive mockery of democracy.)

    Maybe, one day, governments will actually think through the probable consequences of the laws they pass. After all, if illegals were not allowed to stay here (which existing laws say they should not do) they couldn't be hired, could they?

  • Comment number 65.

    As usual, you simply couldn't make this up. Are we not entitled to expect our legislators to at least understand the laws that we must abide by, after all they wrote them. Then having failed this simple test they can resign, after all the real prime minister has set the rules, resignation is simply a temporary inconvenience.

  • Comment number 66.

    My hand has been stayed.

    On this and many other subjects but I fondly thought of a bloke called Mr Lilley - who claimed to have a little list years back. Was that Party Conference season too?

    Forget said blokes first name now I have mentioned him.

    Yup. Hand stayed. Spelt STAID

    My appreciation to a search engines dictionary. Other search engines dictionaries are available


    Characterized by sedate dignity and often a strait-laced sense of propriety; sober. See synonims at serious.
    Fixed; permanent: "There is nothing settled, nothing staid in this universe" (Virginia Woolf).

    Oh yes. Peter - allegedly. First name.

    And in this Universe? Nothing fixed? Do tell!

    It is big and bad but who is afraid, Ms Woolf?

  • Comment number 67.

    Copied from clause 1.2.f of the Ministerial Code,
    “Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests;”
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    Seems that she has definitely broken this.

  • Comment number 68.

    NuLiebor know their days are over. They want to leech as much as they can from us before they go. It would be wonderful to see whoever gets in next hold a criminal investigation into the lying, parasitic, treacherous NuLiebor ministers. Maybe we could even end with a few of them swinging off the lamposts along the Embankment. Now that would give real satisfaction to the electorate.

  • Comment number 69.

    oh come on people, not a big deal! - professional woman needs a bit of help domestically (don't they all?) and she doesn't check things out to the Nth degree - ends up hiring an "illegal" - how many private individuals hiring one person like that, for Home Help, (as opposed to companies doing it systematically as part of their Business Model) would even get a fine? - right - so PLEASE stop being so petty and vindictive ... pure, unadulterated Politics of Envy in play here, methinks

  • Comment number 70.

    By the way.

    Just heard HH - Saga's friend - saying that the Baroness made an administrtative error.

    HH says Scotland had "checked all the documents, but failed to photocopy them".

    What? If she'd checked the documents, did they include a permit to be a UK resident?

    If there was a visible permit, then she (the cleaner) was either entitled to remain or must have been a forger.

    If there was NO permit, then the Baroness was not guilty simply because she failed to take a photocopy, but because she (or her staff) cannot have taken seriously the law the Baroness took through Parliament.

    Fraid Harriet came up with a bit of nonsense this time, Saga!

  • Comment number 71.

    Further thoughts, thanks to one of Guido's contributors...

    The cleaner was here originally on a student visa and then apparently overstayed her ‘welcome’. On the relevant page on her passport would be the student visa stamp stating clearly she wasn’t able to work.

    Now, what are the options:

    1) The AG looked at that page and didn’t spot the disrepancy (which makes her incompetent and not fit to hold office (especially bearing in mind immigrant employment law was her brief when at the Home Office).
    2) She didn’t look at the relevant page on the passport and has therefore lied to UKBA and the public; should proven liars be in Brown’s government? Cynics might say its stuffed with them already.
    3) She looked at the page and it had been altered/forged; again bearing in mind her position/training should we not expect more thoroughness from the Attorney General who spends her working day looking at complex documents and legal issues?

    Isn’t it convenient that she DIDN’T have a copy of the relevant pages to show the UKBA?

  • Comment number 72.

    PLEASE STAY - it will remind us all near Election time just what this sleaze ridden shower - they r not a Govt - stand for.

    ANOTHER own goal by the Clown and even more ammo for Tories - brilliant - a complete decimation awaits ZanuLiebour at the election.

  • Comment number 73.

    @ 43 William Stevenson:

    You're joking..... right?

    No doubt there's a good reason why this blog only appears today, and not when the story broke several days ago. Probably to provide evidence that not every document with the words "Baroness Scotland" written on it gets fast-tracked.

    She should go, but she won't. GB should go for his lack of courage and integrity, but he won't. Because having the job is way more important to them than doing the job. Shame the same can't be applied to the Tongan maid, who neither has the job nor any hope of another now....

  • Comment number 74.

    #22 agree about the moderators I went to far and mention Greg Dyke as well,

    Were is Sagamix and the others to defend Baroness Scotfree when you need them.

    It was not my intention to go through a red light BUT then I'm a white male separated father says it all really

    Not one in her favour is there

  • Comment number 75.

  • Comment number 76.

    "I am told she examined her cleaner's passport, a letter from the Home Office, her P45 and references from past employers, as well as her National Insurance documents.

    Lady Scotland's error - and breach of the law - was not to make any copies." From James Landale's BBC reprt.

    I am baffled. If Mrs Scotland reviewed all the documents and that her ONLY mistake was not to copy documents, wouldn't that imply that Ms Scotland's skivvy was in fact legal? I mean these documents would either say she was legal or not. Or maybe Scottie didn't look at the right documents.

    As far as I can see, the ONLY defence that makes sense on the basis of what we've been told is that forged documents were produced. I do hope the police can find them. Otherwise what we have been told sounds like a pile of manure.

  • Comment number 77.

    Oh and incidentally, just in case the last entry was O/T...

    The Cabinet Office is trying to defend the Baroness over her expense claims. Ridiculously they are now claiming that all ministers are entitled to claim the London allowance regardless of where they live.... Effectively giving all peers who are ministers an immediate pay rise....

  • Comment number 78.

    If you drive kids to school or the scouts you have to go through a full vetting by the police, but to work in the house of a minister you just have to show your documents. Isn't there something of an inconsistency here; not to mention the security risk.

    But then again, the citizens of Britain are allowing all of this stupidity to happen.

    Sorry Mr. Churchill*, your Lions have become sheep. Baaaa-baaaaa!

    *A quote from Mr. Churchill: 'An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last'.

  • Comment number 79.

    " there won't be any woman in the country who won't be now reaching for that passport and making sure she's got the copy.."

    Hmmmm.. you could start with the 90% of women in the country who can't afford the luxury of domestic servants.. even those extra cheap ones from sources where you don't ask for passports. The political class is totally ignorant of how they sound to ordinary people. Not long to go now though..

  • Comment number 80.

    Could we have this reported honestly please? Did she merely 'fail to make photocopies' as she claims or is the cleaner actually an illegal and the AG didn't bother to check?

    If it the latter she has to go as she has not, as she claims, 'broken the rules' but broken the law THAT SHE WROTE!

    No surprise Brown supports her is it?

  • Comment number 81.

    I think Baroness scotlands postition has become untenable and she should resign. Or Maybe It hasn't and she should stay? Who cares? Just more political point scoring.

  • Comment number 82.

    1) That Baroness Scotland does not have the moral rectitude to understand that she should resign, at least offer resignation, is most informative. It demonstrates very clearly in this Government something far beyond sleaze.

    2) She appears to have been paying the National Insurance for the woman who does not have permission to work in the UK. The National Insurance and Pensions Department appear to have been collecting it. Simply how can this occur without the NI informing Baroness Scotyland and the Borders Agency is beyond any excuse. There needs to be an enquiry.
    Is this Labour's idea of joined up Government?

  • Comment number 83.

    Nick, please can you comment on the fact that Gordon Brown is going to the USA and Obama has refused to make time to meet him - although he will be meeting several other heads of (minor) states the same week? Is there any more to the story?

    Thanks -

  • Comment number 84.

    Two things:

    The law was apparently broken because she did not keep copies on the documents. But the visa expired over 4 years ago so this would suggest that the visa was never inspected.

    Secondly does anyone know what has happened to the illegal immigrant Tapui?

  • Comment number 85.

    No comments on the £170,0000 expenses then nick? oh i forgot just a small beer two you nick? And thats extra to her £133,0000 normal salary ,Most of us poor mortals have only a pittance in comparison to live on ,Ask my wife nick her pension was offered at 16 pence a week as she stayed at home two take care of the family while i worked so wheres the justice in that one FAIRLY.OPEN?

  • Comment number 86.

    I presume the law does not apply to the lawmaker. These peopel believe that what they implement is for everyone else not hem.

    She shoudl resign.

  • Comment number 87.

    Baroness Scotland and a struggling farmer, compare and contrast.
    Farmer ‘checked illegal workers’
    A farm owner from Devon who is facing a fine of up to £120,000 for employing illegal workers says he had taken precautions to check their credentials.
    He told BBC News: “We do our best to comply with regulations.
    “We have a very good database of all employees and we have a list of passports and proof of identity.
    “But the biggest problem for employers is to prove the identity of the person.
    “We are not experts in forgery.”

    Mr Coleman was handed an on-the-spot penalty notice by immigration officials that could mean a fine of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker.
    A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: “Mr Coleman was issued with a fixed penalty notice following the raid.
    “That civil action is still pending.
    “To avoid being fined, Mr Coleman must prove to the UK Border Agency that he has carried out the correct checks before giving the workers jobs.”

    I need not ask if Baroness Scotland has recieved the same treatment this is the law under Labour.


  • Comment number 88.

    Nick says that this is a political judgement, about the value of the individual concerned, the seriousness of the offence and the political cost of losing, set against keeping, the individual concerned.

    As we rapidly approaching the fag-end of this Government, then IMHO the 'offence' would have to be very serious indeed for anybody to be sacked now.

    All of them might as well brass it out until the General Election, when the game starts all over again with a fresh bunch of willing volunteers alongside the patronage specialists.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    It's the Cover Up that gets them in the end, but still they never learn. Harriet Harperson was on R4 extolling Scotlands qualities, stating again that she had merely failed to copy the documents rather than failed to see them. I hope that some journalist will be pressing her on which actual documents she saw, and why it was they caused her to believe 'in good faith' the worker was legitimate- not just arm waving, but 'which documents!', and less of this 'technical' and 'unknowing' language intended to make us believe it was only as serious as allowing a 'Bounty' wrapper to be whisked out of our hands by the wind.

  • Comment number 91.

    #49 - pity she's not called France, then we could put her on a train or ferry out of here. She has to go - whatever she's called.

  • Comment number 92.

    By not copying the documents, she is guilty under a law she helped draft.

    Therefore, as a minister, she should resign or be sacked.

    It's quite simple. Unless, that is, you are Michael White at the Guardian, who says:

    "Scotland is a competent female, black lawyer. A second chance is called for."

    Proof, if any were needed, that Labour and its lickspittle mouthpieces in the media, believe in two types of racism. Good racism where white people are discriminated against, and bad racism where non-white people are discriminated against.

    Sickening on every level.

  • Comment number 93.

    The noble lady should resign to relieve the PM of yet another serious error of judgement. If New Labour's maxim is 'no reward for failure' then the conclusion to this unhappy episode is inevitable. Will there ever be a return to high standards in political life?

  • Comment number 94.

    it all rather begs the question as to what exactly a labour minister would have to do to be forced to resign

    the last two chancellors bear responsibility for destroyiong the econonmy - but no resignation.

    The armed forces minister has provided over an equipment debacle &b at times has come very close to misleading the house over equipment issues - but no resignation.

    And now the attorney general has been caught, red handed, breaking the law, but no resignation.

    I ask again, what exactly a labour minister needs to be caught doing before they are considered to have damaged the government so much that they have to go.

  • Comment number 95.

    Let us see now, this illegal immigrant had no problem worming her way in to a member of the government's home.
    How many others work illegally and go undetected? In view of the fact that they are obviously good deceivers of others, we must ask ourselves just how many more illegals are working in the United Kingdom. I take it anyone else found guilty of employing one will just pay 5,000 for the crime?

  • Comment number 96.

    As usual: The rich get justice, law poor get the law.

    None of us would get off so lightly.

    But nothing else will come of it. Next week it will be forgotten.

    When Baroness Scott wonders about why people care less about the law and have no respect for police and law makers she only needs to look in the mirror to see why.

    Is it any wonder morals and ethics are no longer bothered about by us plebs? Because our 'leaders' have shown us these aren't important.

  • Comment number 97.

    Now that the attorney general is a criminal how about expanding the policy of putting people in roles they are diametrically oppossedly unsuitable for? -

    A spendaholic as chancellor?
    An illegasl immigrant for home secretary?
    Osama Bin Laden in charge of defence?
    montgomery burns as Environment secretary?

    or worst of all -

    Gordon Brown as Prime Minister?

  • Comment number 98.

    Congratulations on being allowed to blog on the Scotland affair at long last and how typical that you should seek to play it down by suggesting that Gordon Brown's forthcoming addresses in the USA are more important.

    Perhaps we should remind you that Brown is the Prime Minister of Great Britain, not the saviour of the world. He should concentrate on domestic issues and not be trying to save the planet yet again.

  • Comment number 99.

    Nick Robinson:

    You are very much correct, with the trouble brewing back home; And, the light penalty against the Baroness and the illegal immigrant, in her capacity as her cleaner.....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 100.

    What is going on with moderation??? Again???


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