Alan Travis, The Guardian’s Home Affairs editor, throws some light on the nonsense surrounding Blair’s refusal to pick a number of illegal immigrants out of the air despite taunting from the BBC’s finest:
They were particularly exercised that he didn’t appear to know about an academic study commissioned by the Home Office, which is said to put the figure at 500,000. This “estimate” was featured heavily in the Sunday Times this weekend which mysteriously claimed that it had both been privately endorsed by the Home Office and suppressed. In fact Professor John Salt’s report was published last autumn. He told me this week he felt the most charitable description for the Sunday Times piece was that it was a distortion.
“Neither I nor anyone else knows the size of the illegal population in the UK,” he said. “Nor is there any effective methodology for producing one. No European country has produced an official estimate of its illegal population and no one has found a satisfactory method of calculation.”