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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 10:54 GMT
Watchdog criticism on Hinduja inquiry
Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja
The Hinduja affair revealed "poor record keeping"
The Hinduja passports affair shows the kind of "appalling" record keeping which is blighting some of the most important areas of government, says a Whitehall watchdog.

Tony Wright, chairman of the Commons public administration committee, complained about problems revealed by the parliamentary ombudsman.

Ombudsman Sir Michael Buckley wanted to see a transcript of the disputed telephone call between Peter Mandelson and Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien about the Hinduja affairs.

But the Home Office were unable to find many of the papers for the case, which caused Mr Mandelson's second cabinet resignation.

Unless they get their administrative systems right, we are going to be in trouble
Tony Wright
Commons public administration committee
Dr Wright said the affair and other cases investigated by the ombudsman showed "appalling record keeping, horrific administrative failures and breakdowns in IT systems".

The Legal Services Commission, the Child Support Agency and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate were the areas worst hit by such problems, he said.

The MP told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "All these are difficult and contentious issues with great pressures on government.

"But unless they get their administrative systems right, we are going to be in trouble."

Inexperienced staff?

Dr Wright said almost half the Child Support Agency's staff were aged under 30 and earning less than 12,500 a year.

"It's not surprising that if those people are running the service, dealing with cases, we are going to get some problems," he added.

In the Hinduja affair, Mr Mandelson denied speaking to Mr O'Brien about the case.

Dr Wright said when the Home Office did find the papers wanted by the ombudsman, they revealed "nothing substantial" about the affair.

Mandelson welcomes report
01 Mar 02 |  Politics
Passport inquiry clears Mandelson
09 Mar 01 |  Politics
Mandelson gives passport evidence
13 Feb 01 |  Politics
Hinduja 'did not seek favours'
25 Jan 01 |  South Asia

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