New documents show extent of relaxed UK Immigration border checks

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There have been new developments in the UK Border Agency scandal. New documents further confirm the extent to which checks on UK visitors were relaxed; this includes allowing passengers of private jets to bypass UK visa and immigration security checks.

The documents were emails obtained by the opposition Labour Party in the UK disclosing conversations between UK Border Agency officials suggesting passport checks were relaxed nearly 2,500 times at airports over the period. According to the emails thousands of passengers on private aircraft did not face passport checks at all and were not screened against the terrorist watch list.

UK Border Agency officials warned their managers they feared a "security breach" because they could not "secure the border as robustly as we would like to" and UKBA managers replied that the new arrangements were part of a strategy being introduced at airports across England, and reflected "national policy".

According to Labour, there are between 80,000 and 90,000 flights on private jets landing in Britain every year, each carrying two or three passengers.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the "startling" emails disclosed the "scale of the borders fiasco".

"Last week the Home Secretary told us that no one had been waved through without checks this summer," Cooper said. "But these documents show passengers on private flights weren't even seen. Last week the Home Office wouldn't admit to having figures about how often checks were downgraded. Now we know those figures exist."

The leaked documents come as Brodie Clark, the departed head of the UK border force, prepares to defend himself in order to clear his name and retain his pension when he appears before the Commons home affairs committee on this week.

"The Home Secretary needs to show she has a grip on what is going on at our borders and is capable of sorting this fiasco out rather than making it worse," said Cooper.

The UK Border Agency has responded to the allegations stating, "It is not true that we don't carry out passport and warnings index checks on private flight passengers and will deploy officers to airfields where we have concerns."

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