An official investigation has been launched after two immigration service staff working with asylum-seekers were found to have links to the British National Party, The Independent has learnt.
One guard employed to look after asylum-seekers at a detention centre has been forced to resign after his name was found on a membership list of the BNP. Another man has been suspended while his employer investigates alleged links to the same far-right organisation.
Both cases raise serious concerns about racism within the immigration system, where membership of extreme political groups has long been suspected. Over the past two years The Independent has helped reveal nearly 300 allegations of brutality, including 38 claims of racism, made by asylum-seekers about private security and immigration staff. Some of the allegations included abusive and racist language, in which refugees fleeing persecution were referred to as "monkeys" or told to "go back to their own countries".
The only two services where membership of the BNP can be grounds for dismissal are the police force and the Prison Service.
In the case of the immigration service, everyone working in immigration removal centres or in the guarding or removal of asylum-seekers must sign a declaration making clear that they are not members of the BNP, Combat 18 or the National Front. Those who are found to belong to any group that promotes racism will lose their accreditation to work in the immigration system.
Last night, the UK Border Agency said it "will not tolerate racist behaviour by individuals working in immigration removal centres. All allegations are investigated and the UKBA can revoke an individual's accreditation to work for the agency or have any contact with detainees."
It is understood that a security guard resigned after a list of BNP members was leaked to the media last year.
In the case of the suspended guard, the investigation is being conducted by the private contractor. During his suspension, the man will not be able to work with refugees or enter any immigration building.
BNP policy on immigration stipulates: "We will also clamp down on the flood of 'asylum-seekers', all of whom are either bogus or can find refuge much nearer their home countries."