Law firm boss 'at centre of immigration scam'

A law firm manager was at the heart of a lucrative plot to con the Home Office into allowing "hundreds" of foreign nationals to settle in Britain, a court heard today.









The alleged scam involved large numbers of forged documents pretending applicants were entitled to indefinite leave to remain.



They suggested all of them had satisfied the so-called "14-year or long residence rule".



In reality, many had arrived in the country comparatively recently, claimed prosecutor Christopher Amor.



The barrister told London's Southwark Crown Court that Francis Enaharo, 51, was "at the centre" of the conspiracy.



He claimed that, as manager of the south-east London practice Macauley Blackman Solicitors, Enaharo was able to put his clients in touch with the forgers.



"Once the documents were obtained, he acted on behalf of those clients in arranging the subsequent fraudulent applications," Mr Amor told the court.



He said it was part of the Crown's case one of the forgers was 50-year-old Grace O'Connor.



"Documents created by her have been used in large numbers of fraudulent applications for indefinite leave to remain."



Also in the dock was Olumuyiwa Akinrin, 45.



Mr Amor said he, too, provided fake paperwork, although it was "not clear whether he was acting as a middleman".



He added: "However, Enaharo provided his clients with contact details for Akinrin, who in turn arranged the production and supply of the documents.



"In addition to undermine the system of immigration regulation, the defendants also benefited financially from the conspiracy.



"They were able to charge the applicants both for the forged documents and for the submission of the applications themselves.



"The number of fraudulent applications emanating from this one office runs into the hundreds."



Enaharo, of Capston Mews, Gravesend, Kent; O'Connor, of Codrington Hill, Lewisham, south-east London; and Akinrin, of Chabot Drive, Southwark, south-east London, all deny one count of conspiring with other to "assist unlawful immigration to a member state" on or before May 14, 2008.



The court heard current law allows a person to apply for indefinite leave to remain if they can prove they have been in Britain 10 years lawfully or 14 years unlawfully.



Applications have to be supported by proof of residency using so-called residency documents such as utility bills, bank and mortgage statements, tenancy agreements, healthcare records, and medical cards.



Mr Amor said that, to begin with, fake applications were made by Total Legal Services. But after September 2006 that changed to Macauley Blackman when the law firm took over the immigration advice operation.



Enaharo, who had been practice manger for both, "ran the office on a day to day basis, took responsibility for initial contacts with clients of the firm, and became the key figure in the conspiracy".



The barrister said the plot was exposed when police searched the offices of O'Connor's secretarial service firm in connection with an entirely separate mortgage fraud probe.



Among documents seized was a large quantity of paperwork that could have been used to support applications to remain, counsel claimed.



Closer examination discovered many of the gas bills found contained the same error - "cobic feet" instead of cubic. Further tell-tale mistakes were discovered in other fake documents, including Sky television bills.



Mr Amor told jurors what appeared to be a price list for specific documents was also recovered.



He claimed the evidence suggested O'Connor not only knew Enaharo but, like him, had also worked for the immigration advice firm.



"In the light of this, her claim she had no idea her forgeries would be used support fraudulent immigration applications appears extremely dubious."



Jurors heard an undercover officer, posing as an illegal immigrant from Ghana hoping to settle in Britain, subsequently made an appointment with Macauley Blackman.



After explaining he did not meet the legal requirements, he was allegedly told he would be introduced to someone who could arrange the necessary paperwork for £960.



It was claimed the secretly taped conversation heard Enaharo assure the officer his contacts could easily provide "any document you want...to support your application".



However, when the officer met Akinrin he was informed it would actually cost him £1,200.



He was told: "What you are getting is documents to say you've been here for 14 years."



In the event he was handed a bundle of documentation including an NHS card, utility bills, a bank statement, payslips, P60s, hospital letters and business administration diploma.



When Akinrin's home was eventually searched, allegedly bogus paperwork was found, while more incriminating material recovered from his car linked him to Enaharo.



Some 500 client files were also seized from the law firm, with the "vast majority" apparently containing forged documents supporting leave to remain applications, with "suggesting" a connection with O'Connor.



Mr Amor said while O'Connor gave a "no comment" interview, she "admitted" forging when questioned earlier about the mortgage fraud allegations. However, she insisted she never suspected they would be used to breach immigration law.



For his part, Akinrin responded to only a handful of questions. But the barrister told jurors it was "likely his case will be he did not know the nature of the documents he was providing".



He added: "The prosecution simply say the undercover officer's recordings, as well as the application of basic common sense to this claim, prove conclusively he knew exactly the nature of the business with which he was involved."



Enaharo, however, answered all questions but emphasised he was a practice manager, not a lawyer, insisted "the solicitors were responsible for the application", and said he knew nothing about forged documents.





News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn