A legal watchdog could be given greater powers to monitor and punish dishonest lawyers following an undercover investigation by the Mail.
The Legal Services Board (LSB) has announced it will review the tools available to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to investigate solicitors suspected of wrongdoing.
The LSB said this could include increasing the maximum financial penalty the SRA can impose, which is currently £25,000, as well as looking at whether officers should be able to “proactively gather information and share intelligence to help them detect and address misconduct.” conduct”.
Last week the Mail published a series of reports exposing widespread abuse of the British asylum system by immigration lawyers and advisers.
Legal professionals from several firms agreed to help an undercover reporter file a fabricated asylum claim with the Home Office.
A legal watchdog could be given greater powers to monitor and punish dishonest lawyers following an undercover investigation by the Mail Vice-president Lingajothy (pictured) asked for £10,000 to make up a horrific story and use it in the asylum application.
Malik Nazar Hayat (pictured) told our reporter that the entire process would cost £5,500 in cash, a price he says is a bargain on his usual fees of £12,000 to £15,000 for similar cases.
The findings led the SRA to close three of the companies after Rishi Sunak and Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk said allegations of “appalling” conduct should be met with the “full force of sanctions”.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Labour’s shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry and Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael were among politicians from all parties who had also called on the authorities legal entities to investigate.
Alan Kershaw, chairman of the LSB, said: ‘The public rightly expects lawyers in England and Wales to maintain the highest professional standards and ethical conduct.
‘For some time we have been concerned that the lack of effective fine powers among some regulators, particularly the SRA, may hamper their ability to tackle serious and deliberate misconduct.
“We are eager to ensure…that regulators have the most effective tools available to identify and address such misconduct.”
The Mail investigation revealed that lawyer VP Lingajothy asked for £10,000 to make up a horrific story to use in his asylum application. This included allegations of sexual torture, beatings, slave labour, false imprisonment and death threats which drove him to suicide and forced him to flee to the UK.
The legal advisor promised that he could obtain a medical report to support the story and presented antidepressants to be given to the Home Office as “proof” of the psychological trauma.
At another firm, a lawyer said he would have to “create the evidence” to make it appear that the journalist had a genuine fear of “persecution and murder” if he returned home.
He boasted a success rate of more than 90 percent in similar asylum cases. A third described the “good ingredients of an asylum case” that he said he would use to make it appear that the journalist feared for his life in India. This could include anti-government political allegiances, a love affair with someone from the wrong caste, or being gay.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman (pictured), Labour’s Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry and Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael were among cross-party politicians who also They had asked legal authorities to investigate.
Two said they would falsely claim the Mail reporter was a “human trafficking victim” who had been fleeced, betrayed and abandoned by people traffickers.
Many staff at the law firm enjoy wealth and prestige, including Mr Lingajothy, who owns a multimillion-dollar property empire with his wife, drives a BMW with personalized number plates and sent his son to Eton.
But while immigrants face jail for filing false asylum claims, lawyers who encourage, facilitate and profit from them simply face professional sanctions.
A law firm fired the representative the Mail spoke to and closed one of its offices after we revealed our findings. He said his actions broke the law and breached the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s code of conduct.