Inspector who exposed border failings to leave role months early

John Vine (right), the UK Border Agency's independent chief inspector.
John Vine (right), the UK Border Agency's independent chief inspector.
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The former Yorkshire police commander who holds Britain’s border controls to account has announced that he will resign earlier than planned.

John Vine will step down seven months earlier than expected, on December 31, after six years serving as Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

His departure has prompted accusations from Labour that Home Secretary Theresa May has been attempting to “silence his criticisms of her failing immigration system”.

Mr Vine, a former West Yorkshire Police officer who served as Commander of the Halifax division, has published more than 50 inspection reports including findings that exposed huge backlogs in the now-defunct UK Border Agency.

Announcing his decision to resign, Mr Vine said: “My Annual Report for 2013/14, which is published in December, will mark six years since I was appointed Chief Inspector and set up this Inspectorate.

“During that period I have agreed to two extensions to my original term of office at the request of the Home Secretary, and I feel now is the time to move on.

“I am immensely proud of establishing this Inspectorate from scratch, and believe it has been a catalyst for significant change and improvement across the UK’s border and immigration functions.

“After publishing over 50 inspection reports and making close to 500 recommendations, the time is right for me to seek a new challenge.”

He added: “By announcing my resignation early I want to give the Home Secretary enough time to appoint a successor and ensure a smooth transition of arrangements.

“Leaving at the end of the year and before the next general election, rather than in July 2015 when my term is due to end, makes sense.”

The chief inspector denied he was stepping down after becoming frustrated with a change in the publication process for his reports.

“I have raised my concerns with the change in publication processes with the Home Secretary and the Home Affairs Committee previously, but this is not the reason I have decided to resign,” he said.

Last year, Mrs May was accused of a “cover-up” after she used legal powers to censor parts of a critical inspection carried out by Mr Vine into UK border controls.

The father-of-three was Chief Constable of Tayside Police in Scotland from 2000 to 2008. He joined the West Yorkshire Police fast track programme in 1981 and after taking on a number of roles was appointed Commander of the Halifax Division in 1992.

He was later appointed Assistant Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary, where he assumed responsibility for divisional policing, specialist units and the investigation of major crime.

He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service and a CBE in the 2007 Queen’s Birthday Honours. He is married and has three children.

David Hanson, shadow immigration minister, said: “John Vine’s departure is an indictment of Theresa May’s attempts to silence his criticisms of her failing immigration system.

“I’m sad to hear of John’s departure - he did a superb job as Chief Inspector and brought a rigorous and determined approach to the role of scrutinising our borders.

“His reports highlighted flaws in the Home Secretary’s immigration regime and instead of rectifying them she sought to increasingly hold back his recommendations.”

Home Secretary Theresa May said yesterday: “I would like to thank John Vine for his hard work and dedication in scrutinising the vital work of controlling immigration and protecting Britain’s borders.”