Tuesday 20 March 2012

Brodie Clark has been silenced, several months too late for the Home Office

The Brodie Clark affair is closed. Normal service is resumed, it's as though it never happened, there's nothing to see here, folks, move along please:

Brodie Clark receives £100,000 over Border Agency row - but no one is to blame

The senior civil servant at the centre of the passport checks fiasco has received more than £100,000 after settling his damages claim against the Home Office, with neither side admitting fault.

Brodie Clark stood down last year as head of the UK Border Force after being publicly blamed by Theresa May for relaxing entry checks at airports in order to reduce queues.

He denied he was a “rogue officer”, claimed the Home Secretary had made his position untenable for “political convenience” and began a claim for constructive unfair dismissal.

But on Friday it was announced that the parties had settled before the case reached an employment tribunal.

The amount of public money paid to Mr Clark to settle the case was not disclosed, but it is thought to be more than £100,000.

Neither side admitted fault and while the settlement may save time and legal costs for the Government, it also means the full account of what happened – which let to the UK Border Agency being split in two – may never be disclosed.
It sounds as though Brodie Clark has received substantially the same offer made to him and accepted by him in early November 2011. The offer was quickly withdrawn and as a result the public was treated to a series of media and Westminster battles, three Home Office internal enquiries and a Home Affairs Committee enquiry.

The powers that be must regret withdrawing that November offer because in the interim we have learnt that:
  • For several years successive home secretaries in successive governments have not, in their own estimation, exercised proper control over the UK Border Force and neither have their understrapper immigration ministers.
  • The officials are no better than the politicians. Successive permanent secretaries at the Home Office – and the cabinet secretary himself – might as well not have turned up to the office for all the good their presence did. Again, that is in their own estimation.
  • Ditto successive chief executives of the UK Border Agency and the rest of the Board of UKBA, executive Directors and non-executive Directors alike, their presence on the payroll seems to have added no value. Either that, or Brodie Clark wasn't doing anything wrong.
  • The Home Office is happy to thumb its nose at Parliament's efforts to discover the truth, in this case first promising and then refusing to disclose documents to the Home Affairs Committee.
  • The Home Office don't know how to conduct a trial properly, whether that is a trial of new intelligence-led/risk-based procedures or a technology trial. If pharmaceutical trials were conducted to the same standards, we'd all be dead. Ditto airworthiness trials for new airplanes.
  • The face recognition technology deployed at the border makes no contribution to security whatever and ditto the flat print fingerprint technology.
  • The "technology" that does work – human beings – is being decommissioned. Fast. Hundreds of members of the UK Border Force have already been laid off and hundreds more are still to go, all to be replaced by technology that doesn't work.
  • Their lay-offs are not to save money. The government deems it preferable to spend ten times as much on contractors – a motley band of astrologers and stamp-collectors.
And what have the government learnt? Judging by Damian Green's speech to RUSI the other day, nothing. Everything carries on as before. The border remains secure. It remains the case that the 2012 Olympics will be safe.


Anonymous said...

Consequences of getting rid of the technology that does work :


David Moss said...

Thank you for bringing that old article to everyone's attention.

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