Immigration judge accused of orchestrating £1.8m legal aid scam

Rasib Ghaffar, 54, allegedly received over £140,000

Photo: iStock

Pramod Thomas

AN immigration judge, along with a group of accomplices, is accused of masterminding a complex scheme to defraud the taxpayer of nearly £2 million through false legal aid claims, reported the MailOnline.

Rasib Ghaffar, 54, was involved in a collective effort with legal colleagues who allegedly made fraudulent claims totaling £1,856,584

The fraud involved a trial at Bournemouth Crown Court from 2011 concerning Indian restaurants employing illegal immigrants, where Ghaffar purportedly received over £140,000 despite not serving as an advocate.

Ghaffar, a qualified barrister and part-time immigration judge, has denied conspiracy to commit fraud alongside six others, including his wife, solicitor Kareena Maciel. Maciel has been deemed unfit to stand trial due to medical issues.

The prosecution, led by Paul Sharkey, asserted that the fraudulent claims were based on fabricated legal costs for defendants who were ultimately acquitted.

The defendants, implicated in employing illegal workers, reached a deal with the prosecution, resulting in the dismissal of charges against four of them. This allowed them to claim legal costs from the state, leading to the alleged conspiracy to submit false claims.

Several individuals involved in the conspiracy have already been convicted, including solicitors Azhar Khan and Joseph Ameyaw-Kyeremeh, as well as barrister’s clerk Gazi Khan.

Sharkey detailed the prosecution’s case, highlighting that Ghaffar submitted a £184,000 claim for 350 hours of work, even though there was no evidence that he acted as an advocate for the defendants.

The claim allegedly included backdated work and payments received from public funds, contributing to the overall fraudulent sum.

The prosecutor emphasised that the motive behind the conspiracy likely stemmed from the conspirators’ familiarity with the criminal justice system. Knowing that the acquitted defendants could claim legal costs, the group allegedly seized the opportunity to submit false and exaggerated claims for services that were never rendered.

Ghaffar’s defense contends that he was not part of any conspiracy and maintains his innocence against the charge of conspiracy to defraud by false representation.

As the trial unfolds at Southwark Crown Court, the jury will play a crucial role in determining Ghaffar’s involvement in the alleged fraudulent activities.

The trial is ongoing in the case.