Chief inspector of borders David Neal says he hasn't met Priti Patel - as Channel migrant numbers pass 10,000 this year

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The chief inspector of borders and immigration has said he is "disappointed" and "frustrated" not to have met Home Secretary Priti Patel once since he started the job more than a year ago.

David Neal told MPs on the home affairs select committee that he had asked to speak to Ms Patel on a number of occasions since he started the job in March 2021 but that five or six pre-arranged meetings had been cancelled.

He said the last time he spoke to her was on the phone before he began in the role.

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Mr Neal said: "I'm disappointed that I've not spoken to the home secretary, and frustrated because I think I have got things to offer from the position that I hold."

His comments come as latest figures show more than 10,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year.

Mr Neal also told MPs that he had not seen any sign that plans to send migrants to Rwanda - intended to deter people from making the perilous crossings - had had any impact on the numbers.

He said that he was "not sure I can do any more" to get access to Ms Patel and had "switched fire" to engage junior ministers - adding that he had "good access" to them and was "well-served" by those he speaks to regularly.

He added that Steve Barclay, a Cabinet Office minister assigned to oversee the issue of migrants arriving on Britain's shores, had declined a meeting.

Mr Neal's independent role is to monitor and report on the effectiveness of the government's immigration, asylum, nationality and customs policies.

The Home Office said: "As the Independent Chief Inspector for Borders and Immigration made clear, he has met with Home Office ministers on a regular basis and been well served by them."

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