In the Media

UK Border Agency official faces jail

PUBLISHED November 10, 2011

Official admits he issued indefinite visas to people who should not have been allowed to stay in the UK An official for the UK Border Agency faces a lengthy jail sentence after admitting he issued indefinite visas to people who should not have been allowed to stay in the country. Prosecutors said Samuel Shoyeju gave scores of people indefinite leave to remain in the UK. The 53-year-old admitted misconduct in public office while working as an immigration officer in Croydon, south of London, during 2008. He had previously worked as a visa entry clearance officer in Nigeria. The judge at Basildon crown court, Christopher Mitchell, remanded Shoyeju in custody. He said: "You face a substantial period in custody and you must be remanded." The prosecutor, Lucy Kennedy, said Shoyeju, of Canvey Island, Essex, had issued large numbers of visas to people from Africa who would not otherwise have succeeded in applications to stay in the UK. They were given indefinite leave to remain, allowing them to stay permanently and work. While it could not be proved that he issued the visas in exchange for money, Shoyeju's bank account showed tens of thousands of pounds being paid in over the period of the offence. Kennedy said: "There is an inference to be drawn that he was motivated by money, he did not do it out of the kindness of his heart. This was not an act of charity." The most significant part of the offence was "the vast breach of trust", she added. Stephen Linehan QC, representing Shoyeju, said his client did not accept that the visas were issued for money. The judge said that is his view the truth of the matter was most likely "somewhere between a charity and a business". The case is unconnected to this week's furore over the temporary relaxation of passport checks at UK borders earlier this year , which has seen a top civil servant, Brodie Clark, resign. However, it is unwelcome timing for both the border agency and the home secretary, Theresa May, who faces pressure over Clark's departure , notably his insistence that May's unfair and pre-emptive criticisms of his actions made his position untenable. May says that while she approved a trial easing of some checks on EU travellers over the summer, in part to reduce queues, Clark went further by scrapping checks against a Home Office database of suspected terrorists and illegal immigrants. Another woman, Violet Savizon, 47, from Thornton Heath, south of London, faces a charge of misconduct in public office connected to that of Shoyeju. She is due to stand trial next week. In another linked case, a third woman, Rashidat Ana-Obe, 36, from Dagenham, Essex, has already admitted fraudulently receiving indefinite leave to remain. She and Shoyeju will be sentenced once the trial of Savizon is completed. A UK Border Agency spokesman said the upcoming trial he could not comment in detail about what had happened to those wrongly issued with visas, but that the general policy would be to seek removal. He added: "The UK Border Agency expects the highest levels of integrity, behaviour and professionalism from its workforce and we take any allegations of abuse very seriously." Immigration and asylum Crime Peter Walker © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds