The ‘cat and mouse’ game played in British courts by foreign criminals and failed asylum seekers seeking to avoid deportation is costing the taxpayer at least £200 million every year, a Mail on Sunday investigation can reveal.
Critics accuse immigration judges of being lenient and too ready to grant appeals which are then challenged by the Home Office, further increasing the bill for the taxpayer. Many cases rumble on for years, some for a decade or more.
Convicted fraudster Valter Shpani
NAME: Valter Shpani
ARRIVED IN UK: 2007
CONVICTION: Deported in 2010 after being convicted of fraud but sneaked back in 2012.
In total he has been kicked out of Britain three times, but each time managed to get back using false passports and identity cards.
The last time, earlier this year, he was denied entry from Turkey, but got in by travelling via Ireland.
HOW HE MANAGED TO STAY: In April, a judge allowed him to remain in the UK indefinitely.
Violent thug Sylwester Mazur
NAME: Sylwester Mazur
ARRIVED IN UK: 2009
CONVICTION: Jailed for two years in 2019 for wounding, grievous bodily harm and knife possession after a street row in Somerset on Boxing Day 2018.
HOW HE MANAGED TO STAY: Home Office tried to deport him, but appeal judge let him remain because of his right to a family life under human rights legislation – even though he had separated from his wife.
Fraudster Babatunde Ogunmakin
NAME: Babatunde Ogunmakin
ARRIVED IN UK: 2006
CONVICTION: Jailed for 18 months in 2013 after applying for 400 Home Office visas using fake documents through his bogus law firm in East London.
HOW HE MANAGED TO STAY:
He is still playing the cat-and-mouse game.
He has lost two appeals against his removal but may go to the Court of Appeal next, citing his right to family life under human rights legislation.
Staggeringly, there are currently 40,000 failed asylum seekers who are due for deportation, but whose removal is being delayed by appeals.
Earlier this year, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced an overhaul of the immigration system which she admitted was ‘collapsing under the pressures’ of failed asylum seekers. She has pledged to speed up deportation and end the cycle of ‘unmeritorious appeals’ in the courts.
Despite criticism from human rights campaigners, a Home Office source last night said Ms Patel remained resolute. ‘Foreign offenders shouldn’t be able to keep bringing variations of the same appeal,’ said the insider. ‘It’s gaming the system and judges need to open their eyes to this as well. We’re taking further steps to clear the backlog and speed up the process.’
Shocking cases uncovered by the MoS include:
- A Chinese fraudster who won her appeal against deportation by claiming she would be persecuted back home – yet is a member of the ruling Chinese Communist Party;
- A bogus Nigerian immigration adviser who fleeced clients out of £400,000 and has repeatedly appealed against his deportation;
- An Albanian criminal who has repeatedly got back into Britain after deportation who has now been allowed to stay indefinitely;
- A Kosovan kicked out after being convicted of theft, knife and drug crimes but who returned to the UK where he won a £100,000 bingo jackpot;
- A Polish man who admits his marriage has broken down but is citing the right to a family life to avoid being removed.
The apparent exploitation of the immigration system last night prompted fury. Peter Bone, the Conservative MP for Wellingborough, said: ‘We should not be letting in people with criminal records in the first place, and those who commit crimes in this country must be sent back to where they came from.
‘I want the Government to bring in stronger legislation so that we can send criminals and bogus asylum seekers back easily, rather than them clogging up the system.’
Alp Mehmet, chairman of the think-tank Migration Watch, said: ‘The asylum system is an utter shambles and little short of a national disgrace. The traffickers are laughing all the way to their secret bank accounts while the taxpayer foots the gargantuan bill.’
Like many who appear before the courts, the 36-year-old convicted Chinese conwoman who appealed against her case in Manchester was granted anonymity.
Serial offender Shaban Binaku
NAME: Shaban Binaku
ARRIVED IN UK: 1998, claiming asylum
CONVICTIONS: For theft and knife possession, for which he got 12 months, and drug dealing, for which he was sentenced to three years. He was deported in 2012.
However, he got back into the UK at some point in 2014 and set up a car wash business in North London. That year he also managed to win a £100,000 bingo jackpot. He was arrested again in 2018, revealing his illegal presence in the UK.
HOW HE MANAGED TO STAY: He is still fighting his case – and earlier this year was given leave to remain in the country on human rights grounds.
She received a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence for her role in funnelling at least £2 million into bank accounts in Britain and China – and was ordered to be removed from the UK in September 2019.
The woman, who first arrived in the UK in 2010, claimed deportation would be ‘persecutory’ because she was a member of the Chinese Communist Party and her father was a local party chairman. To the disbelief of Home Office lawyers, she was granted leave to remain and the same judge last month dismissed their appeal.
Babatunde Ogunmakin, 51, set up a bogus law firm to apply for Home Office visas. He and a business partner set up the East London Legal Centre in Romford, where they posed as legal experts and charged up to £1,000 for each application, netting around £400,000 before being arrested, convicted of fraud and given 18 months in jail.
Ogunmakin – who entered Britain in 2006 and has since married and has four children – used human rights laws to appeal his deportation, citing his right to a family life.
At the cost of thousands of pounds, his bid has been rejected by two immigration courts, but he may choose now to go to the Court of Appeal. He may have grounds for optimism if the case of another fraudster, Valter Shpani, is anything to go by. Court documents reveal the 36-year-old Albanian first arrived in the UK in 2007 but was deported three years later after being convicted of forgery.
Chinese money launderer
NAME: Known only as FC after being given anonymity
ARRIVED IN UK: 2010
CONVICTION: Given a six-and-a-half-year prison term in 2019 for funnelling £2 million to banks in the UK and China.
ARRIVED IN UK: Appealed deportation on the grounds that she would be persecuted at home – for being a member of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. The courts accepted her argument.
He came back to the UK in 2012 but his asylum claim was refused and he was returned to Albania. He sneaked back months later, but was caught and kicked out again. He again returned in 2014 and applied for European residency.
After going on holiday to Turkey earlier this year, he was refused re-entry but managed to get back into Britain via Dublin. In April, an immigration court said he could remain indefinitely.
Crooks shun Covid test to avoid deportation
Foreign criminals are frustrating efforts to deport them from the UK by refusing to take Covid tests.
Many countries demand proof of a negative result before allowing entry, but Home Office officials cannot compel the criminals to take the tests.
Lucy Moreton, professional officer at the Immigration Services Union, said: ‘We have a real issue with criminals refusing to take tests at the moment.
‘A number of countries require negative tests and if people don’t want to comply, there’s very little we can do about that.
‘It’s an effective get-out-of-jail-free card.’
Many countries, including Pakistan, Jamaica, Nigeria and Ethiopia, require all arrivals to provide negative Covid tests before they are allowed in.
Last week, Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed that more than 900 foreign offenders had been deported this year.
In contrast, the figure was 6,171 in 2016 and has steadily fallen year-on-year.
Another foreign criminal who headed back to the UK after being deported literally won the jackpot.
Kosovan Shaban Binaku, 42, claimed asylum in 1998 and stayed in the UK until 2012 when he was removed following convictions for theft, knife possession and dealing drugs. After sneaking back into Britain, he set up a car wash in Cricklewood, North London, and won a £100,000 bingo prize in 2014.
Four years later he was arrested, but he has now been given leave to remain in the country.
Polish national Sylwester Mazur arrived here in 2009 but a decade later was arrested and charged with two counts of wounding and grievous bodily harm without intent. He was given two years in prison but appealed, meaning the Home Office could not deport him.
He claims his right to a family life would be breached if he was booted out because he has a wife and children in Britain – even though he admitted his relationship with his wife had broken down. Nonetheless, he has been allowed to stay.
Analysis by the MoS reveals at least £200 million – and possibly up to £400 million – is being spent on failed asylum seekers each year. Housing and food alone cost the taxpayer £130 million, according to Migration Watch, with legal aid of around £20 million. Further large sums are spent on Home Office screenings, interviews, transport and flight costs By law, any foreign national given a prison sentence of 12 months or more is automatically liable for deportation.
According to the latest Home Office figures for 2018-19, there were 100,612 asylum seekers in Britain, costing the taxpayer around £732 million. A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are seeing repeated unmeritorious claims, sometimes made at the very last minute, which frustrate the removal of people with no right to be in the UK – including foreign criminals. Justice is being delayed for those with genuine and important claims while valuable judicial and court resources are being wasted.
‘Those with no right to be in the UK should be in no doubt of this Government’s determination to remove them. Our new plan for immigration will reduce the extent to which people can frustrate removals through unmeritorious appeals or legal action, while maintaining fairness, ensuring access to justice and upholding the rule of law.’
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