Immigration officials caught "selling" visas for sex

// 3 January 2006

Immigration officials have been operating a “sex for visas” scam at one of the country’s busiest immigration centres, according to a 23 year old whistleblower who left the service in disgust at the practice, the Sun reports.

Leaving aside their truely offensive headline, “Lie back and think of England”, (let’s be clear about this – exploiting people desperate to get visas, for sex does not deserve such offhand treatment) the paper seems to have uncovered appalling abuses at Lunar House in Croydon.

Anthony Pamnani is quoted as saying: “Brazilian girls were treated best of all. If male and female Brazilian migrants came in to extend their visas, the guy would get one year and the girl two \x97 even if both had the same level of paperwork. The girl would only have to smile, bend over the desk and she\x92d get longer. Officers used to say about ugly girls: ‘She\x92s bloody disgusting \x97 let\x92s send her back anyway.’

“If an immigrant was ugly, several officers would leave their desks to go behind a screen and laugh at her passport picture. The photo would be copied and pinned up on a wall.”

Now we’re meant to be confident that these officials are in any way capable of carrying out their jobs? If these allegations turn out to have any basis in fact, this is not only a sorry indictment of the people involved, but also of the whole system. Is such a corrupt service capable of handling the sensitive issues around immigration – such as identifying victims of trafficking and protecting people who are fleeing persecution? The Home Office has promised to investigate the allegations. Let’s hope they turn out to be false.

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