The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, David Neal, is sacked!

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
26 February 2024

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration is a person who monitors and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of the immigration, asylum, nationality and customs functions carried out by the Home Secretary and by officials and others on her behalf. It is a public appointment and independent from the government and his reports are laid before Parliament.

The Inspection Team visited London City Airport on 31st January and 1st February 2024. The scope of this inspection was to focus on the efficiency and effectiveness of border force operational response to general aviation flights at London City Airport, including compliance with border force general aviation policies, record keeping and assurance.

Mr Neal, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders Immigration, entered a row with the Home Office after he provided data to the Daily Mail which shows that the UK border failed to check passengers on hundreds of private jets arriving at City Airport. He said that the alleged lack of checks meant criminals, illegal immigrants, trafficking victims and extremists may have entered the UK without undergoing scrutiny by the authorities. The government refuted the allegations, with the Immigration Minister Tom Pursglove telling MPs that the Home Office categorically reject these claims by David Neal. The MP said that the borders force performed checks on 100% of schedule of passengers arriving in the UK and risk based intelligence led checks on general aviation. In the interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Neal said that the lapse was a “scandal” and incredibly dangerous for the country’s border security and he called for rapid independent inspection of general aviation across the country. He told the newspaper that border force officers are supposed to check 100% of general aviation flights but last year just 21% were inspected by immigration officers at London City Airport. His contract, which was supposed to expire on 21 March, was terminated immediately following the disclosure to the Mail. Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said that there are still 15 unpublished reports by the Inspector that the Home Office are sitting on and urged the Home Secretary to publish those reports in full. She said that the Conservatives have lost control of our borders and seeking to hide the truth and putting borders at security risks. In short, David Neal was sacked because he “breached the terms of appointment and lost the confidence of the Home Secretary”. Mr Neal warned of dangerous failings by the border force that he claimed were allowing high risk aircraft to land in breach and without security checks. There is now a planned recruitment process in place for the next ICBI.