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September 23, 2009

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UK attorney general fined for employing illegal worker

BRITISH Attorney General Patricia Scotland was fined 5,000 pounds (US$8,180) yesterday for employing an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper, fueling calls from opposition parties for her to resign.

The UK Border Agency said that following an investigation it was satisfied Scotland had not knowingly employed an illegal worker and that she took steps to check documents provided by Tongan Loloahi Tapui as proof of her right to work in Britain.

"However, the law requires that employers must keep copies of documents proving the right to work in the UK and in this instance the employer failed to meet this requirement," the Border Agency said in a statement announcing the civil fine.

Scotland, 54 - 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 - apologized for her mistake.

"I fully accept the findings of the UK Border Agency that I made a technical breach of the rules and I apologize for having made this inadvertent error," she said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the appropriate action had been taken and rejected calls that Scotland, who sacked the employee after it emerged she was in Britain illegally, should step down from her job as the government's top legal adviser.

"The government takes seriously breaches of this important protection against illegal immigration and as a result Baroness Scotland has apologized unreservedly," he said. "No further action is necessary."

But opposition parties repeated calls for Scotland to go.

"After this, we can't see how Baroness Scotland can credibly stay in her job," said Chris Grayling, Conservative spokesman for home affairs.

"She was the minister who steered this law through the House of Lords and who insisted upon its stringent application. She has no excuse."


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