Illegal immigrants have been working at some of the most sensitive Government offices in the country - including the headquarters of the UK Border Agency - a Mail on Sunday investigation has discovered.
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Following our enquiries, the Home Office admitted employing a dozen illegal foreign staff over the past four years - 11 Nigerians and a Ghanaian.
Ten of them secured cleaning jobs at Becket House, the headquarters of the UK Border Agency, which vets immigrants. The building in Croydon, South London, also serves as an immigration detention centre, holding up to 270 people awaiting deportation.
Two other illegal immigrants worked at the Whitehall headquarters of the Home Office, which houses the office of Home Secretary Alan Johnson. One was a chef in the canteen, while the other worked as a security guard on the front door for 19 months.
The Home Office headquarters is regarded as one of Britain's most high-profile terrorist targets and receives round-the-clock police protection.
Eight of the 12 have since been deported, three are detained pending appeals and one was later granted leave to remain in the country.
The embarrassing disclosures come despite repeated pledges by Labour to crack down on illegal immigration.
Using Freedom of Information legislation, The Mail on Sunday contacted each Government department, council and hospital in Britain for details of employees later discovered to be illegal immigrants since 2006.
Three Government departments, 34 local authorities and 54 NHS trusts admitted hiring a total of 349 unlawful foreign workers. The list featured 37 nationalities, including migrants from Kazakhstan, Zambia and Venezuela.
Disturbingly, several bogus entrants managed to secure jobs in sensitive positions. Councils admitted hiring six illegal immigrants as teachers in secondary schools and ten got jobs as social and care workers, working with some of the most vulnerable in society.
Health trusts revealed four became doctors and 13 secured nursing work in NHS hospitals.
Many councils and health trusts admitted that some fraudulent workers vanished when questioned about their immigration status.
The Government has made repeated pledges to crack down on illegal immigration.
In June 2008, then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced new powers to fine organisations caught hiring illegal immigrants and warned that she would name guilty company bosses on the Home Office website. She said: 'Good employers have everything to gain from us clamping down on the bad ones.'
However, The Mail on Sunday asked each of the 91 public bodies who admitted employing illegal foreign workers to provide details of any penalties they received.
Not one of them had received a fine, which can be as high as £10,000.
The local authority that employed the highest number of illegal immigrants was Haringey, in North London. It gave jobs to 35 unlawful foreign workers, including two Jamaican carers working with elderly and disabled residents.
The news will heap more pressure on Haringey, which was heavily criticised by Government inspectors over its role in the Baby P scandal.
In December 2008, Haringey's head of children's services, Sharon Shoesmith, was sacked by Schools Secretary Ed Balls after the 17-month-old boy was tortured to death despite being on the Child Protection Register.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'This is an absolute scandal. The Government has taken tough action against private companies over the employment of illegal immigrants, yet on this evidence it is quite clear the public sector has taken on bogus workers and escaped any form of censure.
'We have Ministers constantly telling us they have got to grips with the chaos in our immigration system, yet the Home Office itself has been employing illegal workers. It is completely unacceptable and we need an urgent explanation from Ministers.'
Mr Grayling pledged to write to Home Secretary Mr Johnson to ask him about The Mail on Sunday's findings and demand a review of security at the Home Office.
He said: 'It is breathtaking that procedures and checks at the Home Office are so lax that an illegal immigrant could cook food for the Home Secretary himself. This is a huge security breach. We cannot go on like this.'
Three Whitehall departments admitted employing unlawful workers: the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for International Development.
The Ministry of Justice gave jobs to three illegal foreign workers, including a Botswanian administrator working in the Access To Justice Department in Central London, which routinely handles sensitive data concerning legal aid funding.
Failed Zimbabwean asylum seeker Eugene Madzima used a fake passport to land a job processing immigration appeals at a tribunal in Leicester. He was jailed in 2008 for holding forged documents.
The Department for International Development admitted employing 'fewer than five' illegal immigrants in each of the past four years. Despite repeated requests, it refused to provide any more details.
Suffolk County Council employed a 31-year-old Colombian as a modern languages secondary-school teacher before discovering she was in the country unlawfully. A spokesman for the council refused to comment.
Other local authorities that employed illegal immigrants as teachers were Leicester, Bromley, Wiltshire and Nottinghamshire.
Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council admitted giving jobs to 15 illegal immigrants, including Ghanaian and South African home carers. Town halls in Bromley, South London, Hounslow, West London, and Nottingham also gave illegal immigrants jobs as carers.
In hospitals across Britain, The Mail on Sunday found 176 unlawful foreign workers treating patients and running clinics.
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust admitted employing two doctors who were later found to have fake identity papers.
One 34-year-old Indian managed to land a job as a dentist after providing health chiefs with forged documents generated by what the trust described as a 'sophisticated national fraud'. However, the trust refused to provide further details.
The same NHS trust also employed a 46-year-old Ghanaian illegal immigrant as a part-time doctor in a Carlisle hospital. The trust refused to comment.
In another striking case, two South American illegal immigrants stole the identities of a British couple living abroad and used them to get clerical jobs in an Accident and Emergency unit in South London.
Guyanan nationals Indra Kumar Mohan and Kamini Shukram worked full-time at Mayday Hospital in Croydon, South London, for three years while claiming more than £100,000 in benefits. They were jailed for eight months in 2008.
Sir Andrew Green, of MigrationWatch UK, said: 'It is essential that the Government and other public bodies do not break the law by employing illegal immigrants.
'There are now approaching one million illegal immigrants in Britain and the Government's failure to take action threatens the credibility of the entire immigration system.'
A Home Office spokesman said: 'The 12 illegal workers identified were all sub-contractors. None of them were directly employed by the Home Office.
'It was our checks and the strict regime we operate on illegal working in the UK that brought these cases to light. We are doing more than ever before to crack down on illegal working, with raids taking place up and down the country every week and thousands of rule-breakers deported.'
The Home Office said it had fined 2,400 organisations for employing illegal immigrants in the past two years. However, it refused to say whether any were in the public sector.
A Haringey Council spokesman said: 'We took the correct action for dismissal when illegal status became known. We will continue to be vigilant and work closely with other agencies to identify any future cases.'
What the law says - and who broke it... including a Labour law chief
The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 sets out clear rules relating to the employment of immigrants.
Employers in both public and private sectors, including individuals, must check and take copies of identity documents from foreign workers before giving them jobs.
Failure to keep copies is a civil offence, attracting a maximum £10,000 fine. Knowingly and deliberately employing an illegal immigrant is a more serious criminal offence, punishable by two years in jail and an unlimited fine
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According to the Act, an employer can avoid any penalty if they take 'specified steps to verify, retain, copy or record the content of an [identity] document produced'.
It was steered through Parliament by Attorney General Baroness Scotland when she was a Home Office Minister. But in September last year, it was revealed that she was employing a Tongan illegal immigrant as a housekeeper.
Gordon Brown ordered the peer to issue a humiliating apology. But the Prime Minister allowed her to cling to her job after the UK Border Agency backed her claim that she did not know Loloahi Tapui had illegally overstayed a student visa.
However, Baroness Scotland's version of events was questioned when the housekeeper told The Mail on Sunday she never showed the Minister her passport and that, even if she had, it was out of date.
Baroness Scotland admitted failing to take copies of Ms Tapui's papers and became the first individual in the country to fall foul of the new laws.
The Labour peer was fined £5,000 but sparked controversy by comparing the matter to not paying the £8 London Congestion Charge for motorists.
She said: 'It's like driving into the city and not paying the Congestion Charge. It is not a criminal offence.
'I made an administrative, technical error for which I am bitterly, bitterly sorry. I got it wrong. It was a technical breach and I have paid the penalty.'
Ms Tapui was charged with immigration and fraud offences and is due to appear in court later this
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