Policing minister backs criminal probe into fake asylum claim lawyers

Policing minister backs calls for criminal probe into ‘disgraceful’ lawyers exposed by the Mail for offering to help migrants falsely claim asylum

  •  It comes after PM and Home Secretary demanded action against staff involved

The policing minister yesterday called for a criminal investigation into the ‘disgraceful’ lawyers exposed by the Mail for offering to make false asylum claims.

Chris Philp said the Solicitors Regulation Authority and other legal authorities should also probe the ‘morally abhorrent’ behaviour revealed in the undercover investigation.

He spoke out after the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and senior MPs from Labour and the Lib Dems also demanded action against the staff at solicitors firms found charging thousands of pounds to concoct elaborate stories for illegal immigrants to use in asylum applications.

‘The Mail’s reporting exposes disgraceful conduct – fraudulent conduct – by these so-called immigration lawyers,’ Mr Philp told LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast show.

‘They are… fabricating these asylum claims, doing it potentially on quite a wide scale.

Muhammad Azfar Ahmad (pictured in office), a lawyer at Kingswright Solicitors in Birmingham, warned that while he could ‘fight’ for an asylum case, such claims for Indians were ‘very weak’ and suggested another possibility

Malik Nazar Hayat (pictured) told our reporter the whole process would cost £5,500 in cash, a price he insists is a steal from his usual fees of £12,000 to £15,000 for similar cases

‘It’s completely unacceptable for these lawyers to be committing what seems to me to be fraud, getting people to submit totally fabricated accounts.

‘So I think any solicitor who is engaged in that sort of fraudulent activity should be looked at by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and by the police, and they should just stop doing it immediately.’

Home Secretary Suella Braverman had earlier described the investigation as ‘hugely important’ and warned some of the practices highlighted were ‘potentially criminal’.

But Rishi Sunak was criticised after he retweeted our article, commenting: ‘This is what we’re up against’ and adding: ‘The Labour Party, a subset of lawyers, criminal gangs – they’re all on the same side, propping up a system of exploitation that profits from getting people to the UK illegally.’

Sam Townend KC, vice chairman of the Bar Council which represents barristers, accused the PM of ‘playing politics with the legal profession’ and ‘undermining the rule of law, trust in lawyers and confidence in the legal system’.

Chris Philp said the Solicitors Regulation Authority and other legal authorities should also probe the ‘morally abhorrent’ behaviour revealed in the undercover investigation

But Mr Philp said: ‘I think the PM was right to criticise what happened as robustly and roundly as he did.’

He added: ‘That’s why the government, the Home Secretary, the Immigration Minister, the PM, have introduced the illegal immigration bill to clamp down on this stuff.

‘It is very disappointing Labour voted against that bill 70 times in Parliament, because the public, regardless of what your views are on immigration, the public, I think, everybody would accept that having lawyers concoct totally fabricated claims to try and cheat our system is morally abhorrent.

‘And it should just be completely shut down.’

Among the rogue legal advisers exposed was VP Lingajothy, who asked for £10,000 to invent a horrific back story to use in the asylum application, including claims of sexual torture, slave labour and imprisonment.

After the Mail approached the south London firm he was representing, he was promptly sacked.

Legal authorities suggested those exposed by the Mail’s investigation could fall foul of section 25 of the 1971 Immigration Act, which prohibits facilitating illegal migration.

But this is thought to apply only to those who help the act of unlawful entry, not helping the illegal immigrants after they have arrived.

Alternatively, if they were knowingly helping people smugglers or crime gangs from the UK they could be in breach of this law. There is no suggestion the lawyers featured in the Mail’s investigation were doing so.

There has been at least one conviction of a British-based lawyer under such law.

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