The Attorney-General is at the heart of our legal system, in the domestic sphere she is the law, the government’s chief legal adviser, and in charge of supervising all prosecutions. There is no higher authority.
When Patricia Scotland, the current Attorney-General, was a junior Home Office minister, she helped to bring in the Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.
In keeping with Nu-Labour’s general attitude that none of us ordinary mortals can really be trusted, she helped to write into the act the following words to prove that one did not ‘knowingly’ employ an illegal immigrant:
Examine the material; take a reasonable view on its authenticity; photocopy it; put it away safely where no one could see it or interfere with it; go through the same process every 12 months; and keep the material for two years after she ceased to employ her housekeeper.
‘I didn’t take copies. It is something I bitterly regret now.’
She now asks us to believe that the out of date passport belonging to Ms Tapui which was produced in court yesterday is not the one that she was shown during Ms Tapui’s interview for the job of housekeeper to Baroness Scotland last year.
Had she taken a photocopy, as required by her of lesser mortals, then she would have been able to prove whether it was or not.
She didn’t, she can’t.
Since one couldn’t possibly discriminate against a person on the grounds that they ‘looked like an illegal immigrant’ in this country, one must assume that Baroness Scotland has also made similar checks on all her other employees, and has the photocopied results of those checks securely locked up in a filing cabinet for two years at least.
She has already been fined £5,000 – a mere half of the available fine for this statutory offence. The Labour MP Stephen Hesford, was so shocked that he resigned as PPS to Vera Baird over this issue.
“The attorney general is the chief adviser on legal matters to the government. As a matter of principle I think it is wrong that someone who has the honour of serving in that office should remain, considering the circumstances of what happened [on Tuesday]. If you have the honour to serve, you also have the principles to uphold – that, if things go wrong, you don’t stay in a position that could possibly make your job harder, which this undoubtedly will, or embarrass the government which you serve. I think the law officer’s position at the top of the legal tree is a peculiarly sensitive position and requires extra sensitivity.”
Gordon Brown supported her saying that she ‘had not knowingly’ employed an illegal immigrant – but the offence is not ‘knowingly’ employing an illegal immigrant but failing to follow the procedure which would prove that you had not done so.
Mandelson supported her saying “You have to inform yourself properly before rushing to judgment. That is what the prime minister has done in [Lady Scotland’s] case,”
Section 15 of the Act makes NO mention of the words ‘knowingly’. It is not relevant.
Section 15 of the Act allows for a defence:
(3) An employer is excused from paying a penalty if he shows that he complied with any prescribed requirements in relation to the employment.
Now she asks us to excuse her because ‘it came at a very difficult time, her Mother and her bother had died the month before.’
Ms Tapui is today in court being prosecuted for fraud.
Is the court likely to accept as a defence that finding herself in need of work as a cleaner, despite being married to a lawyer in Britain ‘came at a very difficult time’ for Ms Tapui?
I doubt it.
I would remind you that Baroness Scotland is the person in charge of overseeing all prosecutions.