The Daily Mail visited a string of law firms with an undercover reporter posing as an Indian national who had arrived in the UK illegally on a small boat looking for work.
The reporter was told that the lawyers “would make it appear he feared for his life in India”, saying this could done by him claiming “anti-government political allegiances”, a “love affair with someone from the wrong caste” or “being gay”.
By far the most frequent suggestion made to the reporter, posing as a farmer from Punjab, with his “UK-based uncle”, was to pretend to be a supporter of Khalistan.
One lawyer, charging £5,500 cash, told him to claim “he had participated in the farmers’ agitation”, that “someone invited him to join Khalistani separatist Amritpal Singh”, and “now he fears the Indian security agencies are after him”.
Another lawyer, who charged a £10,000 fee, stressed the reporter must claim to be pro-Khalistani — even if he did not support Khalistan — as that way he “would win the case”.
Up to 40 law firms are believed to be being monitored by the UK authorities amid suspected asylum claim abuses.
UK PM Rishi Sunak tweeted the story saying: “The Labour Party, a subset of lawyers, criminal gangs — they’re all on the same side, propping up a system of exploitation that profits from getting people to the UK illegally”.
But Sunak’s comments came under fire from the Bar Council with its vice-chair, Sam Townend, saying: “This damaging rhetoric undermines the rule of law, trust in lawyers and confidence in the UK legal system. ” A spokesperson for the Solicitors Regulation Authority said: “If we find evidence that solicitors or firms we regulate have acted in ways that contravene our rules, we will take action. ”