'Significant risk to security' at London City Airport, report finds

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

A report put together by the government borders watchdog before he was sacked found “a significant risk to security” at London City Airport.

David Neal, who was dismissed as the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (ICIBI) last month, sent his report to the Home Secretary on February 14.

The report found “This spot check inspection identifies a significant risk to security at the border at London City Airport (LCY).

“It highlights failings at a local, regional and national level in Border Force’s response to general aviation (GA). This needs to be addrerssed by the Home Office as a matter of urgency.”

The report stated that all flights identified as high risk should be met by border force staff and a third of low risk flights should be met.

The actual numbers for that at London City in 2023 were redacted but Neal’s verdict on them said “this is shocking and something is clearly wrong”.

But Border Force Director General Phil Douglas said some aspects of the report were “factually inaccurate”.

He said: “We will never compromise on border security and carry out robust security checks on those arriving into the UK, including both scheduled and notified general aviation flights.

“As I previously explained to Mr Neal, some of the information in this report isfactually inaccurate. Border Security checks were carried out on all generalaviation arrivals at London City Airport”.

Mr Neal lost his job after information about the London City Airport report was published in the press before the report was made public.

He said he stood by his comments that were reported in the press about checks on private jets at London City Airport and said he was frustrated at the time it was taking for his reports to be published.

Sacked borders watchdog David Neal gave evidence to the House of Lords’ Justice and Home Affairs Committee (PA Wire)
Sacked borders watchdog David Neal gave evidence to the House of Lords’ Justice and Home Affairs Committee (PA Wire)

Giving evidence to the House of Lords’ Justice and Home Affairs Committee, he said: “I do stand by what I’d said in the article to the (Daily) Mail.

“The legislation requires me to identify border security failings.

“If I’ve not been able to communicate those failings to the Home Office, either to senior officials, to the director-general of Border Force, or to ministers, then it leaves you with very few angles to go at.”

The Daily Mail reported data provided to Mr Neal showed Border Force failed to check the occupants of hundreds of high-risk, private jets arriving at London City Airport.

Immigration minister Tom Pursglove said at the time the Home Office “categorically rejects” this claim, stating that an issue with the data meant flights were wrongly classified.

After his dismissal, the Home Office published 13 of Mr Neal’s reports on the same day as damning findings from an inquiry into Sarah Everard’s murderby serving police officer Wayne Couzens, leading to claims the Government was trying to bury bad news.