Faulty ePassport scanners could be letting a large number of terrorists into the UK, claims security expert

LARGE numbers of terrorists could enter the UK through faulty electronic passport gates, a security expert has claimed.

The Home Office has confirmed an investigation is under way after a woman was able to enter the country through ePassport gates at Newcastle Airport using the wrong passport.

When she passed successfully through the gates, she alerted border staff, who then asked her to try two further gates using the wrong documentation – which again let her enter the country.

Professor Anthony Glees, a leading security expert and director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, said: "Immigration control is the front line and defence in the fight against terrorists coming into the country.

"If these biometric scanners are not working then as sure as day follows night the people that we wish to exclude might not be excluded.

"This could lead to untold numbers of people who we do not want in the country, getting into the country.

"If this has happened, even once, it could happen again but what I'd like to know is how many times has it already happened without people realising it."

The machines, manufactured by Vision Box, were installed at Newcastle Airport last summer and the firm has supplied them to airports including Schiphol, in Amsterdam, which handles around 71m passengers a year.

An airport insider said: "This technology has led to longer queues, huge numbers of complaints, and now it's found they will let anyone through.

"This isn't a first, it's happened before pretty much at every port that has these gates.

“This incident, and others like it, make us a laughing stock. It will, and should, go all the way to the minister.”

Professor Glees, a former adviser to the Home Office war crimes inquiry, said the breach, and its potential reach, placed the country at risk.

He added: "This is extraordinary.
"It's a matter of grave concern because at the heart of our immigration policy in the UK is controlling who comes into our borders.

"We've always been able to exclude people who are not conducive to the public safety, or who are on a watch list."

Border Force funding fell from £617m in 2012 by £51m to £566m in 2018, according to House of Lords records.

A Home Office spokeswoman told Sun Online Travel: "We are aware of an incident at Newcastle airport involving the e-gates on March 3 and are investigating."

Sun Online Travel also contacted Vision Box who said: "Operational issues relating to border security are a matter for the Home Office. We are not able to comment on specific issues on the performance of border systems."

Earlier this month, Sun Online Travel reported that over 2,000 air passengers missed border control last year before they were sent the wrong way on arrival.

Some passengers either missed border control altogether or were later sent back through passport checks.

And Heathrow said last year that they would be introducing biometric technology that will cut journey times by a third.

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