Official grew rich from traffic in migrants

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The Independent Online

An immigration officer at Gatwick amassed a personal fortune - including seven properties and a Porsche convertible - by smuggling hundreds of people into Britain, the Old Bailey was told yesterday.

An immigration officer at Gatwick amassed a personal fortune - including seven properties and a Porsche convertible - by smuggling hundreds of people into Britain, the Old Bailey was told yesterday.

Guy Emmett, 35, charged people up to £4,000 for false documentation allowing them to stay in the UK. He spent £1,000 a day on a lavish lifestyle that could not have been supported by his £20,000 Home Office salary, the court was told.

Emmett was convicted with a London lawyer, Christian Jideofo, of facilitating the illegal immigration of 76 individuals identified by the authorities. But Mark Gadsden, for the prosecution, said: "The Crown's case is that the total number is substantially greater than that. That is simply the visible tip of a much larger iceberg."

Midway through the six-week trial, Emmett's wife, Elizabeth, 30, also an immigration officer at Gatwick, was cleared of any involvement in the scam. A third man, Sam Essuah, testified for the prosecution and was jailed for 12 months in 1998 after admitting four immigration offences. He introduced customers to Emmett.

Mr Gadsden said that for four and a half years from 1992, Emmett had done "completely the reverse" of what he was employed to do. "He systematically endorsed passports of foreigners who had no right to remain here with stamps that would be accepted by the authorities and give them the right to stay here."

Emmett, of Purley, Surrey, and Jideofo, of Barnet, Hertfordshire, were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the Secretary of State by issuing bogus stamps and conspiracy to facilitate the entry of illegal immigrants into the UK.

Emmett's clients, some fromGambia, Ghana, Jamaica and Nigeria, were told they could have a passport in any name. Jideofo would send the passports to Emmett, who would use his own official stamp and that of a colleague to endorse the passports.

The clients were provided with details of what to say if they were ever challenged at a port of entry. Their details had been entered by Emmett on the Home Office computer and they were told to advise any suspicious official to "check my passport with the computer". They were also given the name of a British woman who they should claim to have married.

The written instructions finished by stating: "Don't panic, don't change your story and everything will be alright."

Emmett now faces a confiscation hearing, set for 1 December, over his assets, which the Crown claims were brought from the proceeds of crime. Emmett claimed he made his fortune from renting properties, and that the £250,000 he spent between early 1998 and early 1999 came from the sale of three properties. Judge Pontius adjourned sentence on the two defendants until Friday.

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