Sex, lies, and the stolen videotapes that sent a cleaner to jail

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The Independent Online

Even the more outrageous television law dramas have never featured a storyline like the one heard at the Old Bailey over the past week.

Two immigration judges and their illegal immigrant cleaner became involved in a love triangle that ended in allegations of blackmail, drug taking, sex videos, assassination allegations - and broken china.

Yesterday the soap opera of Court 13 came to a dramatic climax when Roselane Driza was convicted of theft and of blackmailing a female judge. Driza was cleared of a second count relating to another judge, Mohammed Ilyas Khan, with whom both she and her female victim had been lovers.

The 37-year-old Brazilian was also convicted of stealing two home-made sex videos from Mr Khan, one of which, Driza claimed in court, show the female judge apparently snorting cocaine.

The two judges, who work for the asylum and immigration tribunal, may now face disciplinary action over the fact that they both employed Driza as a cleaner when she was an illegal immigrant.

Blackmail remains an unusual charge in the courts and the week-long trial at the Old Bailey has kept the media - as well as the jurors - gripped. Neither of the judges could be named during proceedings because of laws protecting blackmail victims, but the rule banning publication of Mr Khan's name was lifted after Driza was cleared of the charge relating to him.

Mr Khan, 60, and the female judge, known only as Judge J, had been lovers and remained friends after the end of their relationship. Judge J and Mr Khan both employed Driza as a cleaner but denied knowing that she had overstayed her tourist and student visas and was an illegal immigrant - although she said they were both aware of her status.

When Judge J sacked Driza in 2004, for interfering in her personal life and breaking china, Mr Khan also severed her employment in support of his friend. But within weeks, Mr Khan and Driza had embarked on a sexual relationship and the cleaner moved in to the judge's London flat in London.

Passions escalated in December 2004, when Mr Khan refused to spend Christmas Day with Driza's family. He spent Boxing Day with Driza at his flat, but Judge J turned up and became furious when she discovered the affair between her friend and the erstwhile cleaner. Mr Khan ended the relationship in deference to Judge J's demands, but admitted in court that he did continue sleeping with Driza.

Driza then became determined to wreak revenge on Judge J for triggering both the end of her job and her relationship. She found two home-made videos in Mr Khan's flat, one of which she claimed showed him and Judge J having sex and Judge J snorting cocaine. Judge J denied taking cocaine or appearing in the video.

The second video showed Mr Khan having sex with another blonde woman. Driza took the videos and threatened to sell her story to tabloid newspapers unless the judges paid her £20,000. She also told them that she would write to their "boss" - the Lord Chancellor -Lord Falconer, about the sexual shenanigans and her illegal immigrant status.

Mr Khan admitted to the court that he became "petrified" by the threats and claimed Driza had refused to move out of his flat.

In October 2005, the two judges went to the police and Driza was arrested, David Markham, for the prosecution, told the court: "She saw an opportunity to make money by threatening two people who were in sensitive positions - threatening them about their private lives. It needs little emphasis that blackmail develops and thrives where there is human vulnerability and weakness. It does not flourish among angels and saints; it takes root where flesh and blood people - including judges - decidedly fall from grace and err."

During the trial, affectionate e-mails to Driza from Mr Khan were read out in which he called her "real chilli hot stuff" and told her that he loved her.

Driza, meanwhile, claimed that Mr Khan had used her for sex while Judge J had treated her like "an animal". She told the court that she was even concerned that the female judge might hire hit-men to kill her.

The cleaner claimed that she had never blackmailed the judges and that Mr Khan had suggested the figure of £20,000 as compensation for the damage she had suffered mentally and financially. She said she had kept the videos because she wanted an apology and explanation from Judge J.

Driza insisted: "If there was pressure, it was on me. I am here in this court. I am not British. I have nothing to answer for. The world may think I am guilty. I have nothing to hide and God knows I am not guilty."

Sentencing was deferred yesterday but Driza was warned that she faces a "substantial" prison sentence and deportation.

The two judges may also face an investigation into their parts in the affair. A spokesman for the Department for Constitutional Affairs said: "The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice strongly believe that the public must have confidence in judges and take any allegations against them very seriously.

"Following allegations made in the trial of Roselane Driza they are now considering whether to hold a disciplinary investigation into the conduct of the two judges involved."

The love triangle

Roselane Driza

The 37-year-old Brazilian made a high-profile entrance to the Old Bailey each day, wearing a succession of flamboyant outfits every day of the trial. She started giving evidence in broken English but then switched to Portuguese, using an interpreter.

Driza came to Britain from Brazil in 1998 on a tourist visa, then successfully applied for a student visa extension, but was refused leave to remain in 2003 and in effect became an illegal immigrant.

In 1999, she married a man called Sokol Drenova, who told her he was a Kosovan refugee. Two months after the wedding she discovered that he was in fact Albanian and linked to criminal gangs there. He fled Britain weeks later and is wanted for the murder of a Kosovan national in London.He is believed to be serving a 20-year sentence in Italy for the murder of an Albanian in Sicily.

Driza cut a mesmerising figure in the witness box, flicking her hair as she made a series of lurid allegations against the two judges. She showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out but appeared to be on the verge of tears as she was led from the dock.

Mohammed Ilyas Khan

The 60-year-old judge had the most humiliating role in the trial, forced to admit that he had been a "fool" and "complete puppet" by having an affair with Driza after his former lover had sacked her. Mr Khan also had to sit through Driza giving evidence about e-mails in which he called her "chilli hot stuff" and talked about her shaving her pubic hair.

Yesterday he was stripped of his final protection - anonymity - and now faces potential disciplinary action.

Judge J

In contrast to Driza, Judge J slipped into court through a side door each day, anxious to avoid the press, and appeared an unlikely player in the lurid love triangle. Dressed in a trouser suit, she gave her evidence at the start of the trial and denied knowing that her former cleaner had no legal right to remain in Britain. While her identity is protected, she had to endure descriptions of the sex video in which she allegedly appeared, as well as evidence about her affair with another judge. She may also face disciplinary action over employing an illegal immigrant.