back to article Baroness Scotland fined for failing to follow own law

Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, has been fined £5,000 for breaking the law on employment checks which she pushed through Parliament. The country's top legal officer satisfied investigators that she did not employ the illegal immigrant knowingly but simply failed to make and keep copies of relevant documents as …


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  1. David Haworth


    but she'd better not put it on expenses...

  2. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face


    Illegal Cleaner - £5.73 per hour

    Fine - £5,000

    Watching a minister stung by her own legislation - priceless.

    (No doubt the fine will be put on expenses)

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Can this Govt go any lower?

    Breaking a law you implemented and then trying to get away with it by declaring ignorance of said law. This woman is supposed to be in charge of our legal system. This Government makes the Major Govt look clean and honest. Only the parasite classes will vote for this.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Sack her

    She should be sacked.

    Not for breaking the law, but for passing a law that is clearly so difficult to adhere to that even she couldn't manage it.

  5. Richard 39


    Typical, a lawbreaker making our laws and a leader no one wanted telling us she doesn't have to quit. Get these cretinous power abusers out of office now.

    Just because she's a baroness and bum chum of that tosspot we have in power she gets a £5K fine (pittance probably given the amount she is on) and allowed to stay in her position. She broke the law! If a Lawyer, Judge or even humble piggy wiggy broke the law they'd be sacked, why is she any different, if anything she should be punished more severely as she has much more power than the others mentioned?

  6. Richard Jukes


    Ignorance is no defence, etc etc.

    Its another matter of one rule for the plebs and other rules (or none) for the 'ruling elite'.

    Spiffing, jolly good show.

  7. Julian I-Do-Stuff

    I have in my hand a piece of paper... oh...

    How queer. The employee didn't have a right to work yet Scotland had apparently checked the documents and obviously concluded that she did. So, either she was presented with false documents, or she didn't check the right documents or she did so incompetently thereby demonstrating further (she didn't keep copies) manifest ignorance of the law she herself was responsible for or, if she was not ignorant, gross negligence by virtue of failing to do what she knew she oughta, or simple incompetence.

    Equally obviously it's not a resigning matter - she should carefully consider her position then carry on having refocussed her energies on her core competencies. (I am assuming of course that Mr Brown checked the papers of all government ministers etc.)

    She would however benefit from further training in the use of standard office equipment, including, but not limited to, photocopiers.

    Photocopying 101: Arse.

  8. Moshe

    So, Onto The DNA Database Then ?

    Since she oversees putting innocent people on the criminal DNA Database, I take it we will be watching her turn up at a police station to surrender her DNA to be held forever ? She is at least a criminal - according to her own standards and the law she forced through.

  9. Jamie Kitson


    Where does the £5,000 come from and where does it go? Presumably from one tax payer funded department to another, taxing Paul, fining Peter and paying.... Peter perhaps?

  10. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Last sentence is easy

    They're checking to see who else in the cabinet has screwed up on this so they can shuffle it under the carpet.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So, i can claim precedent when they try and fine me for employing illegals... (if i were some kind of employer and not an IT monkey).

  12. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Translation service

    The Home Office said: “The wider investigation is ongoing.”

    The Mighty Reg replied: 'We asked what the last line meant but they were not able to elaborate.'

    My translation is that the Home Office said: 'We're trying to find someone outside the Labour Party to blame.'

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Not a word you hear much anymore.

    If she had any self-respect she would have resigned.

    Although, look at the example set to her. Gordon Brown has complete confidence in her _after_ she makes such a huge fuck up?

    It makes me laugh when the government calls the bankers to task. At least the bankers aren't hypocrites.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Good ....sort-of

    I could not be happier that Ms Scotland has fallen foul of her own, utterly stupid, law. She gets all she deserves.

    This law, along with other similar legislation, is utterly outrageous - Why should any individual (or indeed company) be responsible for the immigration status of someone they employ as a housekeeper (or anything else)?

    HMRC has employed us all as unpaid tax collectors for years, but now we are expected to act as unpaid customs and excise officials, and immigration officials. What next? Unpaid parole officers? Were it someone other than Ms. Scotland, I would be hoping that they would go on to sue the government for allowing these people into the country and therefore putting the employer at risk. Actually, I would be happy is she DID sue them!

  15. C Yates

    In times gone by...

    ... having the backing of the prime minister used to actually mean something. With the amount of U-turns Brown has made recently, it's become more of a death sentence as of late.

    Are'nt we all glad we voted him in.... oh wait :)

  16. rpjs

    "The Home Office has been getting sulky when we edit the dull bits out of their canned remarks."

    The Home Office haven't quite got the hang of this "Press Release" thing yet, have they?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Go! Go now!

    As Chris Huhne said, "Law makes shouldn't be law breakers!"

    She should be gone by the end of the week and Gordo will look even more damaged as everyone he backs ends up falling on their swords.

  18. TeeCee Gold badge

    Editing the dull bits?

    Whay don't you just edit out the lies as well as the dull bits? Then you wouldn't need to reproduce any of it and everyone would be happy.

    You could just insert a generic statement instead. Something like: "A Home Office spokesthing gave us a load of porkies buried amidst an essay of tedious cobblers, but we're sure you can't be arsed to read it all".

  19. Pete 2 Silver badge

    @AC - Good ....sort-of?

    > What next? Unpaid parole officers?

    Oh I'm sure there are lots of possibilities. E.g. Hiring a builder or other trades-person? Better check they've got an up to date waste disposal license, otherwise YOU'RE responsible for the rubbish they take from your site. if they get stopped, you get fined.

  20. dunncha

    Wish I worked for the government or the civil service or was a LORD

    I'd be

    downloading exterme porn,

    Free movies,

    free music,


    drinking & driving,

    snorting coke,

    smoking pot,


    running people over in my Range Rover

    Avoiding Council Tax

    Avoiding Tax


    Mortgage Fraud

    Money Landering

    A Big Prize if anybody can put names to this list of non sackable offence

  21. David 105

    Hold on a Minute While we distract you from the relevant bits

    So the UKBA is imposing a 5K fine for not keeping copies of the document, but they are fully satisfied that she (Baroness Scotland) checked her employees documents when she started work and did not knowingly employ an illegal worker

    Hang on a minute, I know I've not got the massive brain so obviously required to be an MP (all that doublethink would give me a tumor) but surely if she checked her housekeepers documents, as the UKBA is satisfied she did, then surely the UK's finest legal mind would have spotted that she wasn't entitled to work there, in which case there are 2 explanations, both of them worrying. Either She knew her housekeeper wasn't entitled to work there, but felt that the rules she brought in were just for the little people and not for her, and the 5K fine imposed for "not keeping copies of documets" is a smokescreen to draw attention away from the fact that she's flaunting the rules, OR, she wasn't able to work out from the documents she was shown that the lady in question didn't have a right to work here (or any right to work here had an expiry date on it), in which case, what the HELL is she doing as Attorney General? In any case, I think this proves that all Government legislation needs a "Me first" Test. If any MP's (or Lords) can't follow legislation, and don't accept the MAXIMUM penalty when caught, it should be dropped from the statute book for the rest of us

  22. D Moss Esq

    Franz Kafka would understand. The rest of us don't stand a chance.

    According to Lin Homer, Public Servant of the Year:

    "Following the investigation, the UK Border Agency is satisfied that the employer did not knowingly employ an illegal worker. The UKBA is also satisfied that the employer took steps to check documents provided to her as proof of right to work in the UK."

    UKBA are satisfied but Baroness Scotland has nevertheless been fined £5,000.

    According to Ms Homer:

    "This case serves to remind all employers that they are responsible not only for checking the immigration status of their staff but for retaining proof of the documents checked."

    But according to the Home Office:

    "Currently, employers do not have a reliable means of establishing whether a job applicant has the right to work here", please see, page 5.

    Employers are responsible for something the Home Office say unambiguously is impossible.

    The Identity & Passport Service promised to rectify this untenable situation. They said they would provide employers with an enhanced checking service by June 2007, please see, Annex 1.

    They didn't and they still haven't. They haven't because they can't. They can'tbecause their solution depends on the use of reliable mass consumer biometrics. And there aren't any reliable mass consumer biometrics, please see

    Meanwhile the UK Border Agency, another executive agency of the Home Office, can fine employers for breaking a law that the Home Office themselves say we have no way of abiding by.

    Kafka's body is buried in Prague. But his spirit lives on in Marsham St.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is a Joke, she broke laws SHE implemented.

    If your working for the Goverment you should be the BEST of the BEST.

    She is clearly not, so fire her, get somone who can do the Job.

    It sickens me just how stupid, incompetent and down right corrupt our politicians are and yet we put up with it.

    If they worked in the private sector they would be fired on the spot!

    Its like having a vote for which type of disease I wish to catch, do I choose Ebola, Plague or a flesh eating virus!!!!.

    Look at me Mum, I have a vote, which means we live in a democratic country! YAY

  24. Ian 11


    She'll only claim the fine on expenses anyway.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Scotland getting bad press again

    It all went down hill after they released the Lockerbie bomber

  26. seanj


    Like anyone expected any different?

    Government ministers have broken laws, cheated their expenses, some have even had to resign several times, only to be brought back as a Dark Lord. There is clearly no accountability within parliament any more - Gordon doesn't care, he knows he looks like a big floppy donkey dick and that nothing, not even an endorsement yesterday from the powerhouse that is John "ten bellies" Prescott (claiming that outside the UK, Gordon is a "Global Giant" - yeah, unfortunately you pie eating moron, it's the people in the UK who get to vote, or had you forgotten that?!) is going to save his political skin any more.

    In fact, you'll find that no matter how bad an MP or government minister screws up, they won't leave with any dignity, as they all know they've had it for good now, there's no turning back, no re-election in their lifetime, no re-admission to the gravy train.

  27. Chris Martin 1

    Expired Passport?

    One of the news outlets reported that the cleaners expired passport was found when the cleaners flat was raided, now if that passport had expired before the good Baroness employed the cleaner, she could not have checked all the required documents at best.... If the cleaner had a new passport which she had shown to Baroness Scotland, it would not have had any immigation stamps in it, current or expired, again the Baroness could not have done the required checks, hence no copies on file. She is a lawer, the first thing they do is file a copy and charge you £20 for doing it.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    @Marvin O'Gravel

    Umm, you're assuming she was paying the legal minimum wage. After all, there's no need to - who's the illegal cleaner going to complain to? £3.50 an hour, an' be glad about it...

  29. The First Dave

    Double Fail

    So many people are focussing on the failure to record the details, but surely it is just as much of a fail that someone in her position should be taken in by those details in the first place. (Assuming she actually bothered to look, as opposed to just ticking a check box to say that she had read them, which seems far more likely.)

  30. sig

    This wouldn't have happened if we had ID cards.

    5 zillion quid to save the Baroness 5 thousand. Bargain.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Ridiculous law

    So rather than deal with illegal immigration, which would cost a lot, they draft a law to attack the ruthless gang masters that peddle the misery of illegal workers to others. In the usual NuLabia manner, the law is left so loose it applies to the man in the street who gets in a plumber. Are we all meant to check AND KEEP COPIES OF the id of all people we "employ"? Window cleaners? decorators?, builders? delivery drivers? One of us could be prosecuted in the same way under this law.

    The problems this law would cause were pointed out before she piloted the law through to statute but on it went anyway. Now even the person who framed the law and understood it best of all is unable to comply with it? Priceless.

    The explanation from Woolas that she was fined for making a mistake is laughable. The problem is, after all those MPs expenses that were "mistakes", the word mistake as an excuse is wearing a bit thin. In any case, why on earth would you fine someone for making a mistake? Deliberately doing something yes, negligently not doing something yes, taking all steps possible and then making a mistake? wtf? Are these people idiots? Bring on the election.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    False passport

    Fwiw, the cleaner was using a false passport. As none of us have seen it, it's fair to say that we are unable to comment on its quality (or not). If it was a good fake, then the fine is proportionate. She did her job of checking the document, it looked legit and therefore she was not breaking the law by knowingly employing an illegal immigrant. All she is guilty of in that case is improper record keeping.

    If it was an obvious fake, that would be a different matter...

  33. blackworx
    Thumb Up

    Now Children

    "We've reproduced the statement in full because the Home Office has been getting sulky when we edit the dull bits out of their canned remarks."

    LOL you lot are such a bunch of bairns! That's not a criticism - it's the reason I keep coming back.

  34. Winkypop Silver badge

    Sack her...

    ..and then send her on a slow boat* to Tonga.

    Maybe she could try working as an illegal for a pittance...

    * working her passage as ships cat or something.

    Politicians are either in-bred aristocracy or wanna-be aristocracy.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some mistake surely...

    Those laws are for us pond life, not Labour ministers.

  36. Richard 23
    Thumb Up


    ... it appears that it's a "civil" penalty, so the ultimate irony of her going on the criminal DNA database is avoided.

    Pity, really ;-)

  37. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Crooks in Government ....... it's Official.

    Does Baroness Scotland now have a criminal record, for presumably anyone else would have for the same offence?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Baroness Scotland and the grl from Tonga

    Has she now been fingerprinted and added to the database?

  39. Maverick

    @ amanfromMars 1

    more importantly would she now fail an enhanced CRB check?

    after all she could be just as careless again and employ a foreign paedophile

    (please won't somebody think of the children?™)

    she should be bared from having anything to do with children from now on - after she (hopefully) gets the boot

  40. David 105


    Outside the UK, Gordo is a "Global Giant" is he? Is that the quivilant of bands being "Big in Japan"? Unfortunately for Prescott I can remember the episode of the Daily Show which was on about the same time Brown was making a speech to congress about the Financial F up (strangely never mentioning that it was America's fault , which is what we were repeatedly told), where Jon Stewart repeatedly mocked Brown for ripping of Obama's speeches.

    Any overseas readers care to weigh in on how Brown is viewed outside the UK (Y'know, in the places where it has NO RELEVANCE!)

  41. Adam 52 Silver badge


    You're spot on. She's managed to do a deal with the border agency to avoid being prosecuted.

    In other words she's committed a crime (one she herself created) and she's bought her way out of a prosecution. A bargain for her really because a criminal conviction, which she should have, would have ruined her career.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "What next? Unpaid parole officers?"

    ... you forgot 'Care in the Community'. We're all carers now.

  43. Grease Monkey Silver badge


    Brown just can't spin like Bliar.

    Hopefully we can all see what he's trying to do here. He hasn't sacked her, because that would call attention to the situation which would be embarassing. He hasn't asked for her resignation, because that would call attention to the situation which would be embarassing. What he was hoping to do was simply wait for the next reshuffle and shuffle her out of the job, probably citing her request to spend more time with her family as the reason.

    It's staggering that he didn't foresee that failing to sack her, or at least demand her resignation, would call attention to the situation and cause embarassment and would also show him up for being totally weak willed. He continues to believe that pledging support for his corrupt ministers in these situations show him up to be decisive and firm, whereas in reality it enforces the public opinion of him as weal willed and wishy washy.

    Of course Bliar will be laughing up his sleeve as every stupid decision made by Brown probably improves the relative perception of his own leadership. Not that it should. We should all blame Bliar for Brown having the job in the first place.

  44. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Oh that's okay

    She's explained it perfectly:

    It's 'an administrative penalty' for a 'technical breach' of the law neither of which are like 'paying a fine for breaking the law' which only apply to people outside of government.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Poor Old Gordo...

    From Scotland, and thats twice in 3 weeks Scotland has really f****d him....

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Hoist; Meet Petard

    Sounds like a little time in lockup should fix things right up.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You're all being very harsh to poor Baroness Scotland, after all you'd have to be some sort of lawyer to understand how this law works.


  48. Raz

    Brown IS irrelevant

    @David 105

    I am not watching the news every day, but here in Canada I believe I saw more often that French president in the news that your Gordon guy. I know about him only because I read the Reg :)

    Might as well be an alien...

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Perhaps it'll make her a better politician. Nothing like getting hung by your own petard to make you see the other guy's point of view.

    It's easy enough to pass law and insist that ignorance is no excuse; but when you discover how easily folk, who are not trying to break the law, can get caught up, then maybe, just maybe, you look a little more carefully at what you are inflicting on others in the future. And perhaps revisit the stuff you passed previously in haste ?

  50. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Calling a spade, a spade ...... and no spinning.

    "But because she had not knowingly employed an illegal worker and had checked documents Mr Brown believed " no further action" was necessary." ....

    "This was a woman who was working locally, she was married to a solicitor. I believed the documents that I saw on their face value."

    Both Mr Brown and Baroness Scotland are revealed by those two statements to be incompetent at least and downright criminally conspiratorial at worst, and therefore their respective positions would be reasonably regarded as being untenable, because both evidence the fact that documents were NOT checked, as is surely required by the Law.

    Personal belief is not acceptable as it knowingly omits any [third party] checks which are required.

    It is an inexcusable disgrace that both the PM and the Attorney General would so conspire to pervert the course of Justice, to save themselves to continue in their positions.

    J'accuse ...... on the evidence as supplied by both defendants and as recorded and shared with the BBC.

    The Law and Justice will be rendered an Ass and a Pornographic Puppet of Politically Incorrect Maladministration should both Parties not be held to further account and be dismissed/sacked. They are Unfit for High Office.

  51. richard 99

    Blinkered Colonies

    @ Raz - That's mainly because Canada's news is wholly insular unless it relates to asylum or refugees. The UK barely made the headlines when we sold you milions of pounds worth of faulty submarine. Susprising really considering how many claim Scottish heritage over there.

    I'd put it to you that the only reason you see little Sarko is because he's a member of another of the groups the Canucks are so fond of pandering to - Francophones.

  52. Anonymous Coward

    Documents? What documents?

    So she failed to keep copies of the documents that proved her cleaner could work legally.

    How could these documents have existed in the first place given her cleaner had no right to work in the UK? How could she have actually examined documents that didn't exist?

    Once again the rich and powerful get away with a slap on the wrist.

    £5000? She has probably spent more on having her duck island polished.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    This was ALL over the mainstream news...

    So why on earth does El Reg feel the need to proliferate it further???

    While the occasional non-IT related story creeps into the Reg from time to time, (and usually raises a smile or chuckle), the Baroness Scotland story is an example of the over reported / exposed piffle that every journo with an agenda or axe to grind jumps on like a horny teenager on a Bangkok whore. (Not to say that this article is grinding anything; it is at least fairly objective.)

    I just prefer to get away from the mainstream staple with my daily lunch-time dose of the Reg, I get all that other stuff from BBC / SKY news.

  54. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    @AC - Documents? What documents?

    "How could these documents have existed in the first place given her cleaner had no right to work in the UK? How could she have actually examined documents that didn't exist?"

    The rules regarding keeping photocopies of documents is there to deal with this very issue. If the employer has a photocopy of a legitimate looking document then they are absolved of all blame. If they don't have the photocopy then the assumption is made that they didn't check. The problem being that there are an awful lot of forged documents about, or at least legit documents which have been doctored (dates altered and the likes).

    If an employer has a photocopy of a legit looking, but dodgy document they have proof that they have been conned. And therein lies the problem. There are employers out there who are providing illegals with fake docs in order that they can employ them, but this ruling gives them a simple loophole.

    I suppose the lack of a copy sort of proves that Scotland is only slightly dodgy, not totally bent.

  55. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Labour Spinnners/Attack Poodles on El Reg?

    "I just prefer to get away from the mainstream staple with my daily lunch-time dose of the Reg, I get all that other stuff from BBC / SKY news." .... By fLaMePr0oF Posted Wednesday 23rd September 2009 12:44 GMT


    The mainstream staple from BBC/SKY news is mouldy ole gruel and sycophantic fiction for dessert. Here on El Reg is IT Michelin starred Cordon Bleu and fantastic facts.

  56. Anonymous Coward

    Spin free zone...

    "The mainstream staple from BBC/SKY news is mouldy ole gruel and sycophantic fiction for dessert. Here on El Reg is IT Michelin starred Cordon Bleu and fantastic facts" By amanfromMars 1 Posted Wednesday 23rd September 2009 15:01 GMT


  57. Francis Offord

    There is no dungeon deep enough

    Yet again we see the difference between the populace and the heirarchy. The producer of the specific law cannot claim lack of knowledge of the laws provisions, she wrote it for gods sake and anyway, ignorance of the law is no excuse for non compliance

    as we are constantly reminded. £5000 is derisory, it should be 10 times that, or more. It should mean a quick despatch from her governmental duties and, preferably, re-housing in somewhere like one of Her Majesty's penal establishments and the charging of full bed and board. It should be combined with all the panoply of the law and restrictions which such housing requires and public humiliation upon her release. We have recently seen an innocent man released from custody after 27 years and his rental and food removed from the settlement process, despite his being innocent. We have not heard that any consideration was given to him for the inconvenience and humiliation he has suffered yet this member of the great and good has the approvel of Gawd Helpus Brown, so that is OK. There is the distinct odour of rotting kippers emanating from Downing Street. The whole rotten government should stand accused tried and dispatched including all the hangers on who purport to being involved in the process of law making. until/unless our law makers who turn to be law breakers are brought to book we shall remain as laughing stocke of the world.

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