Vol. 5 Num 317 Mon. April 18, 2005  

500,000 illegal immigrants in UK'

The government has secretly calculated that there are about 500,000 illegal immigrants in Britain even though ministers have said they are not aware of the scope of the problem, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The research was ordered by Prime Minister Tony Blair more than a year ago "as a matter of urgency" after he hosted a summit on immigration, The Sunday Times reported, citing a confidential memo.

The figure includes not only migrants who have illegally entered Britain to find jobs but also failed asylum seekers who should have been deported, the right-leaning newspaper said.

However, in the face of Conserv-ative opposition charges of lax border controls, experts conducting the research were told not to disclose the figures, the newspaper said.

Only last week Home Secretary Charles Clarke told the BBC that he did not know how many illegal immigrants there were in Britain.

In a campaign speech on April 10, Conservative leader Michael Howard accused Blair's government of pursuing policies that encourage illegal and potentially dangerous immigrants to flood into Britain.