A criminal investigation is still ongoing into the events at Saughton House, Edinburgh – the site of the ongoing development of the ill-fated SAF system for the processing of rural payments for Scottish farmers.
Some of the allegations under investigation include:
- Tier 2 Visa Fraud
- Use of illegal migrant workers
- Failure to comply with the Resident Worker Test
- Deliberate sabotage of the Rural Payments SAF project
- Corporate racial discrimination
- Wasting public funds
- Misconduct in Public Office
Around 20 key witnesses have now come forward representing a cross section of Scottish Government permanent staff and contract workers on the system at the time the alleged crimes took place and officers from the Economic Crime Unit are in the process of interviewing these and more witnesses as part of their investigations.
When contacted by local press, a spokeswoman for the Scottish Government stated
“We have engaged extensively with the Home Office and their investigations have found no evidence of visa fraud. We have not been approached by Police Scotland, but will of course cooperate fully with any inquiry they may be pursuing.”
However, a letter received from the Immigration and Security Minister before the recent election states
“The Home Office has also taken on board concerns that the [Tier 2 Visa] route has been used by some companies to undercut and fill jobs that could be done by resident workers, particularly in the IT sector”
“A core principle of the [Tier 2 visa system] is that a sponsor organisation must be licensed by the Home Office before they can employ a non – European Economic Area (EEA) worker. In order to obtain a sponsor license, a company must provide specific evidence of trading along with information about how their internal systems operate”
When asked for a statement on the ongoing investigations at the Scottish Government, the Home Office stated that they were unable to comment whilst there was an ongoing police investigation.
The Scottish SAF system at the centre of the furore has recently attracted disdain from farmers who have described the system that is currently being developed by these migrant workers as “unfit for purpose” and indeed it appears that the failure and increased cost of the system mirrors the failure of the Rural Payments Single Payment System about which a parliamentary report stated that “The RPA did not adequately take into account the effects of losing a large number of experienced people. Lord Whitty should have acted at the time to prevent the departure of so many such staff.”
The report goes on to state that the problems with the SPS system had serious financial consequences for farmers and also led to permanent staff at the RPA losing their jobs in cutbacks because of the extended cost of the system.
The Parliamentary Report can be found here