Investigation in to allegations about the Croydon PEO

On 3 January 2006, The Sun published allegations of corruption at the Public Enquiry Office (PEO) in Croydon. The newspaper’s central claim was that officials were demanding “sex for visas”. Other forms of misconduct and lax security were also alleged. The Sun said that its story was based on information provided by a former Home Office employee and member of staff at the PEO, Anthony Pamnani. On 9 January, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality, Tony McNulty, announced that the Home Office had set up a formal inquiry into the allegations. "I have found no evidence to support The Sun’s central allegation that there was a corruption “racket” in the PEO involving “sex for visas”. I have recommended that an investigation continues into one specific allegation against a single member of staff about whom, it was alleged to the inquiry, an applicant made claims involving sex two or three years ago. I shall submit a supplementary report when this is complete. I have not found any evidence that female applicants were receiving more favourable or unfair treatment for any reason. I have, however, concluded that a few PEO staff were engaged in unprofessional behaviour towards applicants, including bypassing the queue, making contact outside the office, and inappropriately displaying and making fun of passport photographs. It is also likely that at least a few staff were not carrying out all their Warnings Index checks. It is clear that the WI system log-on rules were frequently not followed, but I have no reason to believe this led to wider security risks. I have found no evidence that passports were carelessly put at risk of being stolen, although they were sometimes left unattended behind the counter during the day. Anthony Pamnani told me he did not complain to management about corruption, as alleged by The Sun, and I do not doubt that, had he done so, management would have taken such a complaint or allegation very seriously. I have found Anthony Pamnani himself to be a generally credible witness, especially regarding those allegations where he admitted involvement himself."

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