LONDON (Reuters) – An illegal immigrant employed as a housekeeper by the British government’s chief legal adviser said in a newspaper interview today that her employer had failed to check her passport before she was hired. Tongan Loloahi Tapui, who gave an interview to the Mail on Sunday after approaching a celebrity publicist to help sell her story, said Attorney General Patricia Scotland had given her a job after a 10-minute interview.
Scotland, who was fined 5,000 pounds on Tuesday for breaking the law on employing illegal immigrants, denied Tapui’s claim that she had not checked her passport and repeated her position that she saw all the relevant documents. Scotland, who was a minister in the Home Office when laws were passed to impose fines of up to 10,000 pounds for bosses who employ illegal workers, has already apologised.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, trailing in the polls before an election due by June 2010, has backed Scotland and rejected opposition calls to sack her.
In her first interview since the story broke, Tapui told the newspaper: “She didn’t ask for a passport or a letter but she has said she has seen a passport which I did not provide. “I will take a lie detector test if I have to, if she is saying I provided a passport. I didn’t.” The newspaper did not say whether it had paid Tapui for her story, brokered by publicist Max Clifford.
Scotland, who sacked Tapui after it emerged she was in Britain illegally, issued a statement rejecting her allegations.
“For the record, as I have said previously, I was shown all relevant documents – a P45, National Insurance details, a marriage certificate, a letter from the Home Office, references, and a passport – by Ms Tapui during her job interviews,” it said.
The opposition Conservative Party repeated its call for Scotland to resign.
“This unedifying row just underlines why Baroness Scotland’s position is now completely untenable,” Conservative home affairs spokesman Chris Grayling said. “This is increasingly looking like an attempted whitewash that has gone badly wrong.”