Sacked Borders Inspector Lays Into 'Shocking Leadership' Within The Home Office

The government department has seen four different home secretaries in five years.
David Neal criticised the "shocking leadership" in the home office
David Neal criticised the "shocking leadership" in the home office

A former chief inspector of borders and immigration slammed the home office on Tuesday, telling MPs he was disappointed in its “shocking leadership”.

David Neal, who was fired last week, told a hearing of the home affairs select committee about the major problems with the government department – which has seen five changes of leadership in five years.

Asked about what surprised him the most about moving from the Metropolitan Police to the home office, he replied: “I think the lack of leadership and the turnover of staff.

“Within the home office, for example, there have been three separate permanent secretaries while I’ve been there, all the director generals have changed over during my time.

“Asylum accommodation, for example, over the last 18 months has been passed over four different senior leaders for that area.

“That makes it really difficult in terms of responsibility, accountability, and authority.”

It’s worth noting that current PM Rishi Sunak vowed to introduce a government with “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” when he got into No.10 in October 2022.

Neal continued: “It becomes a trope for the military to have wiring diagrams everywhere, to make responsibility, accountability and authority very clear – and that’s never clear within the home office.”

He said this lack of leadership was his “biggest disappointment” when it came to his time working with the department.

Since the 2019 general election, the home secretary position has been headed up by Priti Patel, then Suella Braverman, then Grant Shapps, then Braverman again, before switching hands once more to James Cleverly. He’s still in the role today.

Neal was sacked as the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration last week.

The home office said he had breached his contract by speaking to the press about airport security worries – but Neal maintains expressing this concern was part of his role as borders watchdog.

Neal accused No.10 of blocking his reappointment – his tenure was set to expire on March 21 – before he was then sacked by a senior civil service in a video call last week.

He also claimed: “The notification that I was sacked was in the media before my team or I had had the chance to speak to them, which is just shocking. Shocking leadership.”


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