OLYMPIC chiefs were today threatened by fresh scandal after it emerged suspected illegal immigrants had been drafted in to protect St James’ Park.
Three alleged bogus workers – employed as security guards – were arrested in a co-ordinated strike on the home ground of Newcastle United.
It came just 24 hours before Mexico and South Korea kicked off Tyneside’s Olympic celebrations.
UK Border Agency workers made the arrests alongside officers from Northumbria Police after acting on intelligence and carrying out routine checks.
The suspected illegal immigrants had been contracted in to provide security at the site and had already been installed at their posts, it is believed.
It comes just days after Tyneside doormen were drafted in from private security firms to protect the stadium.
The Chronicle understands those arrested were brought into the city by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) from a security company based in the south of the country.
LOCOG were unable to comment on the incident, but a spokesman from the Home Office confirmed they had staged the sting on Wednesday.
The spokesman said: “These arrests show that UK Border Agency security checks are working.
“The responsibility for ensuring employees have the right to work in the UK rests with the employer.
“The UK Border Agency is working closely with employers and contractors at Olympics venues to prevent illegal working.”
Security firm G4S have faced heavy criticism in the run-up to the Olympics in Newcastle, after they failed to live up to their promise of providing security staff on Tyneside.
Earlier this week more than 500 staff from security firms across the country were called in to patrol St James’ Park, check bags, marshal spectators and carry out routine public safety and security functions for the tournament, which runs to August 4.
It was the latest foul-up by the company after it emerged this month they had failed to ensure enough security staff turned up to provide protection for footballers staying at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead.
On that occasion Northumbria Police were forced to step in.
But today Olympic chiefs were facing fresh criticism after police helped Border Agency officers carry out the arrests at St James’ Park.
Home Office officials were unable to release the nationalities or ages of those arrested, but confirmed they had carried out a raid.
Meanwhile, a Northumbria Police spokesman said: “On Wednesday, July 25, officers carried out a number of arrests in conjunction with the UK Border Agency in connection with suspected immigration offences.”
Last week two Olympic security guards were arrested on suspicion of being illegal immigrants at Coventry’s Ricoh Stadium. One was due to be a supervisor for G4S.
The Pakistani pair, aged 21 and 24, are believed to have been working for several weeks at the ground, which is one of the 2012 football venues.
LOCOG further came under fire after fans reported delays getting into St James’ Park prior to Mexico’s goalless draw with South Korea.
Today Newcastle City Council’s director of operations 2012, Stephen Savage, said: “LOCOG are responsible for ticketing, sales and collections, and as soon as the city council became aware of the delays we made the strongest representations to LOCOG to tackle this issue.
“I’m pleased they have now come up with a solution to reduce delays.
“The atmosphere at yesterday’s games was absolutely marvellous and the fans of Mexico, Korea, Gabon and Switzerland were a credit to their nations.”