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OOPS! Foreign killer, paedophile and rapist freed on Reid's watch.

Byline: By ROSA PRINCE, Political Correspondent

FURIOUS John Reid was yesterday forced to admit a foreign murderer, a rapist and a child sex attacker had been freed on bail since he became Home Secretary two weeks ago.

The humiliating revelation means claims he made just a day earlier to a committee of MPs that four murderers and 23 other serious offenders from the 1,019 released foreign prisoners were back in jail were incorrect.

A further eight offenders supposedly under the control of the Home Office have also been bailed, including four in the more serious category. Mr Reid - who in an exclusive Mirror interview yesterday vowed to stamp out the chaos at the Home Office - said he had removed one senior official from his post and was preparing to move another over the blunder.

He admitted the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal - an independent panel of judges - had released the criminals at the height of the scandal over foreign deportees - days after previous Home Secretary Charles Clarke was fired.

Staff from the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate went to the hearings to oppose bail but lost.

That information was not passed on to the new Home Secretary.

Mr Reid only discovered the mistake late on Tuesday after asking that all facts he supplied to the Home Affairs Select Committee were re-checked.

Home Office officials stress the bail decisions were made by judges and were opposed in all cases.

Mr Reid has demanded all further bail applications are to be contested "as vigorously as possible".

He had warned MPs on Tuesday that all figures he gave should have a "health warning" because he had found Home Office data had always seemed liable to change.

In a letter to committee chairman John Denham, Mr Reid said: "I am afraid I have to correct information I was supplied with in respect of the number of offenders currently in prison. It is not acceptable and I apologise."

Shadow Home Affairs spokesman Damien Green blasted: "When a Home Secretary warns that nobody can believe Home Office figures, and gets the figures wrong himself, it shows a complete failure of administration."

r.prince@mirror.co.uk

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APOLOGY: John Reid' VOW: Story yesterday
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 25, 2006
Words:369
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