Part-time immigration tribunal judge jailed in £1.8m legal aid scam

A part-time immigration tribunal judge has been jailed for three years for his part in a £1.8m legal aid fraud. Barrister Rasib Ghaffar was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. He was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to three years’ imprisonment.

The 54-year-old conspired to inflate legal fees and work claimed for in 2011 and 2012 together with solicitor advocate Azar Khan, 52, solicitor Joseph Kyeremeh, 73, and legal clerk Gazi Khan, 55. All four were convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

The case focused on four claims, arising from the legal costs of four acquitted defendants, totalled £1,856,584 of which a quarter – £469,477 – was paid out.

Ghaffar was found to be responsible for a fee note in his name for £184,000 relating to more than 350 hours of work. He had been instructed only seven days before the conclusion of the case. 

Southwark Crown Court

Gazi Khan, described as the ‘leader in this criminal operation’ worked as a clerk to several solicitor firms. Azar Khan was the principal partner in City Law Solicitors and started work on the case resulting in the claims on 1 July 2011, some 10 weeks before it concluded. He claimed to have carried out over 500 hours of work costing more than £162,000.

The firm’s claim also falsely backdated the work it had said it had done to include a period when it was not instructed to represent any defendant. The LAA paid out £93,000.

Kyeremeh was a principal partner in the same firm. His legal work resulted in a claim of more than £176,000, with £60,000 coming from public funds, relating to 650 hours work.

Azar Khan and Kyeremeh were sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, in December 2021, and Gazi Khan was sentenced in 2023 to five years in prison.

Malcolm McHaffie of the CPS said: ‘These convicted defendants defrauded the Legal Aid Agency for their own purposes. They fraudulently took advantage of a statutory scheme which was designed to help acquitted defendants with their genuinely incurred legal costs.’


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