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Home Office Official Arrested for Allegedly Selling UK Residency to Asylum Seeker

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Home Office Official Arrested for Allegedly Selling UK Residency to Asylum Seeker

(CTN News) – A Home Office case worker has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to sell UK residency to an asylum seeker living in Northern Ireland, according to the BBC.

BBC News Northern Ireland can reveal that the official allegedly approached a vulnerable man and demanded £2,000 in exchange for accepting his asylum application.

It is believed that sensitive Home Office records were exploited as part of the attempted fraud.

The Home Office stated that the employee had been suspended.

It stated that it expected “the highest standards” from its employees but that further commenting would be “inappropriate” due to the ongoing police investigation.

Stephen Kinnock, Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister, said the claims were “deeply concerning,” adding that the Conservative administration had “lost control” of the asylum system.

BBC News Northern Ireland has spoken with the intended victim, who we’ll call Renas, to protect his identity.

He claimed he was contacted by a person acting as an asylum “decision maker” in northern England.

Renas stated that he received a call in early March 2024 claiming that “95% of people like you” had denied their applications.

The decision maker allegedly claimed that a direct payment would ensure success.

UK Home Office

“He said I could be sure he would refuse my application,” Renas said.

“But if I could assist him, he could help me. Therefore, he begged for money, requesting £2,000.

“He basically offered me a positive decision.”

Renas, a former journalist, believed it was “a total scam” initially, but it became evident to him that the individual on the phone worked for the Home Office.

“He had all of my information.” He gave me very precise information from my application.

Renas taped a subsequent video call from the decision maker, which he shared with police and was also seen by the BBC.

The clip shows a person using a laptop with official Home Office software and case files.

“He targeted the most vulnerable people in society,” Renas went on to say.

“There will be more asylum applicants going through the same process, and perhaps some people have already been duped like this. I feel it is my job to inform them.

“Authorities persecuted me in my home country. I was already concerned about the Home Office and other institutions here.”

Renas voiced concerns with his counsel, who informed the authorities.

Lancashire Police stated to BBC News Northern Ireland that they had detained a man on suspicion of misconduct in public office, money laundering, bribery, and computer abuse.

“Officers from Lancashire Constabulary and Home Office allies apprehended the 30-year-old male in Blackburn’s Ramsgreave area.

“An investigation remains in its early stages and enquiries are ongoing.”

It is unclear how many others could have been targeted in this fashion, whether any of those people gave over money, or whether any cases were granted in exchange for payment.

Renas has since been told that his refugee status is secure and that the decision to give him UK residency was not influenced by the decision maker’s alleged conduct.

Renas’ lawyer, Sinead Marmion, said it was a “very confusing time” for him.

Sinead Marmion, an immigration counsel, described the decision-makers actions as “egregious”.

“My first thought was this cannot be real,” she told me.

“This is an exceptionally unusual situation.”

She lauded her client’s “integrity,” saying, “To raise a problem like this took a lot of guts.

“He was initially quite frightened about what was going on, and it was difficult for us to give him any comfort because it was a very confusing time.”

Anyone who comes to the UK can make an asylum claim, a legal request for shelter or refugee status in another country, under an international convention agreed upon in 1951.

133165601 homeofficestory bbc.jpg

In 2022, BBC Newsnight reported on reports from Home Office officials that the mechanism for dealing with asylum requests was hampered by the hiring of “inexperienced and low-paid” people to handle applications.

“Given backlogs and promises to clear backlogs, there has been a recruitment very quickly of people who perhaps are not vetted enough and aren’t qualified enough to actually deal with matters of such magnitude,” stated Sinead Marmion, a spokesperson for the

Renas’ experience is “shocking but perhaps not surprising” to her.

Last year, a senior Home Office official told a committee of MPs that 28% of asylum decision-makers quit their posts each year.

A representative for the Home Office stated, “We expect the greatest standards from our staff to ensure asylum requests are properly considered, decisions are sound, and protection is granted to those who truly need it.

“A member of staff was arrested and suspended. It would be improper to say further because the case is still under investigation by police.”

Shadow Immigration Minister Stephen Kinnock stated, “These are highly troubling charges, and it is appropriate that the police investigate this subject.

“The Conservatives have lost control of our asylum system across the board and should be working round the clock to restore integrity and public trust.”

Renas stated that he is “relieved” that the Home Office has approved his refugee status, allowing him to begin constructing a new life in Northern Ireland.

“I hope to develop a career here. “I really hope I can do it,” he remarked.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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