A furious British government has sacked the head of the country's border force after revelations he waived away basic checks at airports and train stations, apparently to make life easier for reduced staff and travellers.
Claims that Border Force director Brodie Clark may have let in hundreds of thousands of foreigners flew in the face of government proposals to clamp down on skilled migration, prompting a senior MP to accuse David Cameron's administration of sending out "mixed messages."
Clark was suspended after the Daily Mail reported that border controls were relaxed behind the backs of ministers. Home minister Theresa May, who was reported to be "incredulous and furious", also suspended two officials at the UK Border Agency and set up a probe by an ex-MI6 officer.
In July this year, the British government instructed the border force that that passport checks on European Union citizens entering Britain could be relaxed under certain circumstances, such as school children travelling in groups.
Clark is thought to have extended this approach to non-Europeans as well, dropping biometric passport checks, verification of fingerprints and even checks against watch-lists of terrorists and criminals.
"It's extraordinary that large numbers of illegal immigrants are being allowed in, while genuine people are finding it difficult to come to Britain," said MP Keith Vaz.