Accusations of personally delaying vital immigration reports leveled against Theresa May

The Immigrations and Borders Chief Inspector says his duties are being frustrated as findings are not acted in by the home secretary
The head of the watchdog on immigration has leveled an accusation against Theresa May of deliberately delaying to publish the independent reports of office which are criticisms on the system of asylum in Britain.
The Guardian obtained and saw a letter which John Vine had written to senior MPs disclosing that the home secretary was in possession of five inspection reports which are critical of the British government. It is claimed that five months ago one of those letters was written.
The public accounts committee of the Commons was warned by the chief inspector of immigration and borders that his independent role was being compromised because the timing of the publication of his reports was now being controlled by the home secretary.
The letter by Vine will seriously question whether May was making an attempt to control an inspector who is deemed to be independent ahead of the general elections of 2015.
The chair of the committee Margaret Hodge stated that the completely independence of the chief inspector must be in place if his work was to be reviewed and gains the confidence of the public. She said it was unacceptable for the home secretary to decide when the reports are made of the chief inspector. Her actions were now seen as inevitably undermining the chief inspector’s autonomy and credibility.
Vine who is retiring from his office next month wrote to committee stating that since 2009 he had worked alongside several home secretaries during which time he had published several reports that were independent of government.
However, in December 2013 May had written him saying that because of a statutory requirement his reports would have to be published through her department.
Vine stated that at the time his fear was that a result of her decision was going to be that there would no longer be prompt publications of his reports, which would reduce the impact of his findings. He had always believed that the findings of his inspection report were supposed to be revealed to the public as quickly as possible and without any delays.
He had responded on December 19, 2013 to the home secretary stating his worries with her proposals… However, on January 1, 2014 the changes came into effect as a result of the home secretary deciding to move ahead with the changes.
Vine felt that it was unfortunate that his concerns had been correctly proven. Since January 2014 the bulk of his reports have been significantly delayed between when they were submitted to the home secretary and when they were eventually presented to parliament.
For Vine, considerably lengthy delays in the publication of the reports could jeopardize how effective the independent inspection was supposed to be, which to a very large extent is dependent on timely publishing the findings, and this was all contributing to the notion that there was already a compromise of the independence of his role.
In the letter, he disclosed further that he had been so disturbed by the proposals that he had sought for opinions from legal experts.
In his words, he had gone to seek his own legal advice independently from the solicitors of Treasury who had come to the conclusions that the interpretation of the home office of the law was not the only nor the obvious interpretation of the policy and that there was validity in his view.
According to the letter by Vine which was earlier sent this month, a report on inspection into Operation Nexus was still not released by the Home Office. Operation Nexus was a plan of controversy which was introduced in June 2013 to deport over 100 offenders from abroad every week.
May had been sent the report by Vine in June this year, but it has not yet been presented to parliament.
According to Vine the other four unreleased reports are an interview inspection, which studies how effective were credibility interviews, which are official interviews utilized to review applicants for visas; an overstayers inspection, which studies how migrants who overstay are handled by the home office; a Queen’s Warehouse report, which is the place that the Border Force handles goods that have been confiscated; and a nationality inspection, which examined the procedures through which British citizenship assessment are conducted by the Home Office.
Sources stated that most of the previous reports by Vine had for months been delayed by May and then published en masse. Last year, there was a removal of 15 passages from a research on border controls of Calais, comprising the quantity of illegal migrants on trips on Eurostar trains into Britain. They stated further that the decision last year of May to discontinue the UK Borders Agency and merge its duties alongside with the Home Office had caused the government to be much more exposed to the inspectorate’s criticisms.
The Home office stated that arrangements for publication had been streamlined with the legislation of 2007 which spelt out that the Home Office was supposed to present the reports of the Independent Chief Inspector to parliament. The advice of the legal experts was clear and concise that the practice previously was not complying with this legislation, and it was proper that the adherence to the law was now being observed by the department as well as to protocols of parliament.
They stated further that reports are presented as soon as they are available for publication. Significant consideration are required for some reports as well as the attendance to the recommendations of the Chief Inspector required the developing of new processed or guidance. This could result in delays that are unavoidable, but already 14 reports had been published this year, which was higher than the quantity published last year at the same point by the Chief Inspector.
The shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper stated that May’s actions suppressed the truth and were shameful. In his view, John Vine had already made it clear that Theresa May had against the legal opinion of Treasury deliberately decided to delay and reduce the impact of the reports of the independent inspector. Since 2010, there had been no improvement in the system of immigration rather it had retarded. She had said that instead of putting things right, Theresa May had been hiding from a chaotic system. There was no comment from a spokesman of Vine when he was asked for a comment.