Former Bradford councillor who ran visa scam jailed

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A former Bradford councillor who ran a sophisticated visa scam which netted tens of thousands of pounds has been jailed for nine years.

Khadam Hussain, 62, who previously represented the City ward for the Conservatives, was described by a judge as the “originator and organiser” of the immigration fraud which involved the submission of more than 100 applications supported by fake documentation from solicitors, estate agents and would-be employers.

The prosecution estimated that the conspiracy to defraud Home Office entry clearance officers could have earned Hussain up to £175,000, but Hussain himself claimed he had only gained about £60,000 from his offending.

Hussain, of Box Tree Close, Bradford, his wife Zahida, 53, and their three sons Adam Ashraf, 36, Gibran Hussain, 26, and 31-year-old Adnan Hussain were all found guilty of the conspiracy to defraud charge at the end of a trial at the city’s crown court today. A fifth man Numan Shafi, 24, was also convicted of the same offence.

Ashraf, of Northcroft Rise, Bradford, was jailed for seven years and the same sentence was imposed on Gibran Hussain, of Box Tree Close, and Shafi, of Hilton Road, Bradford.

Adnan Hussain, also of Hilton Road, was jailed for seven years and three months after he also admitted benefit fraud offences. Zahida Hussain was granted bail until her sentence hearing on December 4, but Judge David Hatton QC warned her to prepare herself for a prison term.

The complex investigation, which involved the collection of about 10,000 pages of documentation, began after complaints from a solicitor about forged documents in her name being used to support visa applications in 2011. In September 2012 investigating officers searched an Islamic wedding venue in City Road, Bradford, known as “The Palace” and addresses linked to Hussain and the other defendants.

The prosecution had alleged that “The Palace” had essentially been a front for the family’s principal business which was offering immigration advice and documentation in return for payment.

Although Khadam Hussain was never officially registered as an immigration advisor he was known in the local community as the person to contact for assistance.

The fraud was said to have covered a period between 2006 and 2012 and Khadam Hussain even turned up at four immigration appeal tribunals to give evidence on behalf of applicants whose visas had been refused.

“This conspiracy involved a thoroughly dishonest, cynical and wholesale assault on the integrity of immigration procedures, rules and regulations,” Judge Hatton told the defendants.

The judge said some legitimate applicants had been “duped” by the conspiracy and respectable and responsible firms such as solicitors and estate agents had had their reputations put at risk because their identities had been used without their knowledge.

After the hearing Craig Swanston, from Home Office Criminal Investigations, said: “His (Khadam Hussain’s) gang, which included members of his family, used fraudulent practices to cheat our immigration system and facilitate the illegal entry of foreign nationals into the UK. Today’s sentences reflect the gravity of these offences, and this gang are now paying the price for their criminality.”

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said the sentences sent a clear message to such gangs.