Gurus are dangerous beasts in politics mainly because they tend to say awkward things (something Ed Miliband, who has Lord Glasman as his on-off guru, can attest to more than others). But the row over Arnie Graf’s immigration status, sparked by the Sun’s front page today, shows that gurus are dangerous in many, many ways. Like the Church of England discovering it was investing in Wonga while also crusading against it, it’s surprising that the Labour party didn’t think to make sure all was tickety-boo on the immigration status front before launching a tougher strategy in this area.
Still, it has given the Conservative attack machine something to do, with Priti Patel writing to the UK Border Agency to demand an investigation into whether Graf is working here illegally. You can read the full letter below:
Director General of Immigration and Enforcement
UK Border Agency
2 Marsham Street
I am writing to ask the UK Border Agency to urgently investigate the case of Mr Arnie Graf, who I believe may be working in the UK illegally.
According to The Sun newspaper, Mr Graf advises the Labour Party on campaigning, and visits the UK on a business visa. Mr Graf is also quoted as saying that he works with Ed Miliband.
The Labour Party are on record as stating that they ‘reimburse him for lost earnings and expenses’. I believe that this reimbursement for lost earnings constitutes Mr Graf taking paid employment, and would ask that you investigate whether this breaches the terms of his visa.
Mr Graf has also appeared in a Labour Party video aimed at recruiting volunteers, I believe that this may constitute ‘producing goods or providing services…directly to members of the public’.
I am also concerned by the length of time that Mr Graf appears to have spent in the UK. It was reported in January 2011 that Mr Graf would be coming to the UK to advise Ed Miliband on the Labour Party’s structure. According to UKBA’s guidance, a business visitor must not visit for more than 6 months.
Given that he reportedly continues to advise and regularly meet Mr Miliband, I believe that this would breach the legal requirement that business visitors do not intend to ‘live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits’.
As you know, paying individuals to work in the UK who do not have the appropriate visa is a serious criminal offence. I understand that the individual involved would also be liable for deportation. I would therefore be very grateful if you could investigate this case as a matter of urgency.
Priti Patel MP
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