A couple of days ago, I said Baroness Scotland, the UK's Attorney General, should not lose her job for employing an illegal immigrant as a cleaner.
Now I think she should lose her job. Not for employing someone who's visa had expired five years earlier. But for helping to push through Parliament a law so heavy-handed and obtuse that not even the nation's top law officer can follow it.
Baroness Scotland has been fined £5,000 simply because, while she checked her cleaner's documents, she did not keep copies of them. It's a mere technicality, of course – as she and her government colleagues have been so anxious to point out. And it's exactly the sort of technicality that trips up ordinary, law-abiding people.
People who run small businesses, in particular, live in fear of falling foul of employment regulations such as this. And since there are so many regulations when you employ anyone, no small business can actually ever read them all, or know what the rules actually are. And then the UK Border Agency, a quango, slaps them with a £5,000 because they made a mistake on a form – or even just forgot to take a photocopy. That £5,000 might not matter much to Baroness Scotland. Who knows, it might even appear on her next Parliamentary expenses chit. But it could easily ruin a small business.
It's a rotten law, just like the UK-US extradition treaty that Baroness Scotland also steered through, and which headling-grabbing American prosecutors have used against British businesspeople, rather than to snare terrorists (as the Noble Baroness told us was its purpose). She should be ashamed of serving up such a legal dog's breakfast. She should resign.