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Asylum whistleblower failed to get top job.

Byline: JAMES McCARTHY

THE whistleblower who this week made allegations of institutional racism at the UK Border Agency in Cardiff was refused a top job there before she made her claims.

Louise Perrett had applied for the pounds 55,000-a-year post of assistant director at the Welsh Office.

Once there, the 29-year-old said she hoped to change the culture of the government department, which deals with asylum seeker's applications to stay in the country.

But despite having signed the Official Secrets Act, Ms Perrett broke her silence about her time at the immigration service and claims: a gorilla toy, dubbed the "grant monkey", was used as a badge of shame for officers approving asylum applications; one employee had tested claims of forced conscription by African boys by asking them to lie on the ground and demonstrate how people were shot; a manager allegedly said that if it was up to her, asylum-seekers would be shepherded outside and shot.

The social policy student said: "I applied for the assistant director job, which is a grade seven post on pounds 45,000 to pounds 55,000. I passed the (initial) criteria at that level but when I got to the assessment centre, I failed to meet the criteria."

Ms Perrett, of Cardiff, said: "You have the application stage, which I passed, and then the civil service assessment, which involves role play and discovering whether you can respond to a certain amount of e-mails and stuff like that.

"And at that stage, I failed by two or three points."

She left her temporary position at the centre in Newport Road, Cardiff, after three and a half months to study for her degree.

Now, the Commons home affairs select committee chairman, Keith Vaz,

has called for an investigation into her allegations. And Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott has demanded a parliamentary inquiry. Ms Perrett said: "I would certainly have considered taking the job.

"It was at a level where I thought I could have effected change because I would have been working with the senior management."

After her degree at Bristol University she hopes to work in social services.

"How does one person change a culture like that? It is impossible," she said. "I decided to speak out because nobody else was saying anything and major changes are needed at senior management level."

Senior Border Agency sources claimed Ms Perrett could be making up the allegations because she had an axe to grind, a claim she denied.

IAn agency spokesman said: "Louise Perrett was not an employee of the Home Office. She was employed by a recruitment agency and was contracted to work at the agency as a short-term temp while we were [recruiting staff].

a "The UK Border Agency expects the highest levels of integrity and behaviour from all our staff.

"This individual has never raised the issues in question with us. We take all allegations of inappropriate behaviour extremely seriously."

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CLAIM: Louise Perrett 'had an axe to grind'
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 7, 2010
Words:498
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