Prime Minister David Cameron offered fresh support Wednesday to an embattled government minister who is embroiled in a scandal over a summer relaxation of border controls.
Facing down opponents in the House of Commons, Cameron said Home Secretary Theresa May had acted properly when she instituted a pilot program to reduce some border checks. He condemned border agency officials for going beyond her orders and making controls too lax during the peak summer tourist season.
Cameron said the pilot program instituted by May "did not compromise security" and supported the decision to suspend Brodie Clark, the head of the U.K. Border Force. May has said Clark acted without authorization when he dropped some controls, a charge Clarke denies.
Clark, who was suspended last week and resigned Tuesday, accuses May of giving an inaccurate description of events. He is scheduled to give testimony to lawmakers about the scandal next week.
A spokesman for the prime minister said Cameron believes Clark exceeded his authority.
"The reason for his suspension was that he went beyond what he was approved to do," the spokesman said.
"It is clear that there were various authorizations given to staff which went beyond ministerial instructions. Precisely what happened and why is the subject of an investigation."
Clark is planning to bring a lawsuit against the government, which he says forced him out of his job.
Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said May's handling of the border agency had become a "chaotic fiasco" and said it was impossible to determine how many people had entered the country illegally while controls were eased.