Heathrow airport passport shambles “cover-up” bid by Border Agency

08:14 30 April 2012

UK border chiefs at Heathrow airport were accused of mounting a cover up bid to hide lengthy delays endured by passengers.

The Border Agency wants passengers banned from taking pictures of three hour long queues.

Leaflets which apologise for the delays should also not be handed out, demanded Marc Owen; director of the UK Border to the airport’s operater.

Heathrow operator BAA claimed people arriving in the country “deserved a warmer welcome” - the leaflets explaining how to complain to the Home Office.

But in a leaked email, Mr Owen, told BAA the leaflets are “inappropriate” and that ministers would take “a very dim view”.

“The leaflet... is both inflammatory and likely to increase tensions in arrivals halls especially in the current atmosphere.

“It is inappropriate in that it is not for you to display how to complain on our behalf.

“Please refrain from handing out (the leaflets) or I will escalate (the matter) with ministers who are likely to take a very dim view. I know there are copies in the hall and your troops are ready with them,” said Mr Own in the email seen by the Telegraph.

Former transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour’s aviation spokesman, said: “This is a pure cover-up. I can understand people wanting to take pictures of the queues. This is further evidence of Border Force trying to hide the severity of the problem.

“Passengers need to know how to register complaints and for Border Force to try to prevent them doing so is outrageous.”

In a joint statement, the Border Force and BAA said: “The majority of passengers pass through immigration control quickly but there are sometimes delays at airports for a range of reasons.

“We think it’s important passengers are given the full picture.

“We will not compromise border security but we will work together to keep delays to a minimum.”

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