Lawyers jailed for passport scam

TWO lawyers have been jailed for running a sophisticated passport racket giving Hong Kong Chinese a new life in the West.

Barrister Paul Samrai and solicitor James Walker charged u40,000 a time for forging documents that “proved” their customers were entitled to British citizenship.

At Southwark Crown Court, Judge Gerald Butler QC jailed each of the men for three years.

The judge said the two had “agreed to participate in a thoroughly reprehensible deception of the Home Office”.

Walker was convicted of conspiracy to falsify documents and two charges of conspiracy to defraud.

Samrai pleaded guilty to conspiracy to falsify documents and gave evidence for the Crown during the three-week trial.

The judge said it was clear Samrai was “not a prime mover in what took place”, but that his “culpability was substantial” and that Walker had “abused his position as a solicitor of the Supreme Court”.

Brendan Finucane, prosecuting, told the court how Samrai, Walker and wealthy Chinese travel agent Tony Mann launched an immigration consultancy in Hong Kong.

If clients did not meet “stringent” Home Office rules, Samrai would forge papers which were then sent to Walker at his firm.

He would certify them as genuine before submission to the immigration department .

Clients had no idea their applications were being handled in a dishonest manner.

Patrick O'Connor QC for Samrai said his client had been pressured into dishonesty and had been of massive assistance to police in both countries.

The Home Office must now decide how to treat those who have received passports to which they are not entitled.