Grayling accuses Brown of attempting to "whitewash" Baroness Scotland's employment of illegal housekeeper
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The Mail on Sunday has an exclusive interview with Baroness Scotland's former housekeeper this morning.
- "Cleaner got job in ten-minute interview with 'no questions about whether she was eligible to work in the UK'
- The Attorney General's housekeeper 'didn't have ANY of the 6 documents that entitled her to work in Britain'
- She had already been working here illegally for four years
- She was paid just £6 an hour - 33 per cent below the going rate in London and just 27p above the national minimum wage."
Chris Grayling has issued this statement:
"This unedifying row just underlines why Baroness Scotland's position is now completely untenable. But it also raises huge question marks over the way the Home Office and the Prime Minister have handled the case. The Home Office rushed through an investigation without listening to all the evidence, and the Prime Minister exonerated Lady Scotland before the housekeeper had even been questioned. This is increasingly looking like an attempted whitewash that has gone badly wrong."
Conservatives are convinced that this story is highly damaging to Labour and cannot believe that Gordon Brown has allowed the row to rumble along into the start of Labour's Conference week. They believe that the combination of ministerial incompetence, illegal immigration and insight into a politicians' home life is very damaging for Labour.
Chris Grayling has today written to Home Secretary Alan Johnson demanding that the investigation into the matter be re-opened so that Baroness Scotland's former housekeeper can be interviewed. He said:
“The more we hear about what happened last week the clearer it becomes that this was an investigation rushed through under fierce political pressure and it has failed to do the job properly. The borders agency could not have possibly been in a position to mount a full investigation without interviewing Baroness Scotland’s housekeeper. It looks very likely that all of this was rushed through to avoid disrupting the Labour Party conference.”
And here is the text of his letter to Alan Johnson:
"I am writing to you concerning the investigation by the Borders Agency into Baroness Scotland. You will be aware that the investigation was concluded within forty eight hours of the story about her housekeeper first breaking, and that the Agency ruled that she had inadvertently broken the rules for those who employ migrant workers.
"This investigation appears to have been concluded with a speed that is almost unprecedented for such inquiries, and the Agency appears to have reached its conclusion without carrying out a detailed interview with the housekeeper herself. Furthermore the employee’s evidence, as now published in the media, appears to directly contradict that given by Baroness Scotland.
"Given this, it seems extraordinary that the Border Agency appears to have carried out such a cursory inquiry, and reached its conclusions so quickly.
"Can I urge you to reopen the inquiry into Baroness Scotland, and also to carry out a full internal investigation into how this enquiry was handled last week. Can I also ask you to clarify what role Ministers had in the inquiry process, either in setting its remit, in briefings or discussions with Borders Agency officials, or in mandating other Departmental officials to make representations to the Borders Agency about the investigation.
"I am sure that you appreciate the importance of clearing things up and resolving this matter once and for all, but also that the process is thorough and treats Baroness Scotland in exactly the same way as any other employer."