A legal watchdog has said it intends on taking “urgent action” against a number of solicitors accused of making false asylum claims.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) confirmed it had launched a probe into multiple firms and individuals over claims they’d offered an undercover reporter a false asylum defence in return for cash.
The SRA investigation comes just hours after Justice Secretary Alex Chalk urged the regulatory body to wield the “full force of sanctions” against unscrupulous lawyers.
On Monday the Daily Mail reported that multiple solicitors agreed to help an undercover reporter, who was posing as an economic migrant, submit a phoney application in exchange for thousands of pounds.
One lawyer secretly recorded asked for £10,000 to invent a horrific back story to use in the asylum application, according to the newspaper.
This included claims of sexual torture, beatings, slave labour, false imprisonment and death threats that left him suicidal and compelled to flee to the UK.
In a statement sent to The Epoch Times via email on Wednesday, a SRA spokesperson said: “As a result of the information provided, we are looking to take urgent action to make sure the public are protected.
“All solicitors should uphold the high professional standards that we and the public expect of them.
“This is especially important in areas such as immigration where those involved may be among the most vulnerable in society.”
The SRA added that if evidence is found that solicitors or firms have acted in ways that contravene its strict rules, “we can and will take action.”
Undermining Public Confidence
The SRA strictly prohibits lawyers from deceiving courts, and any act of dishonesty or lack of integrity may result in them being struck off.
In a letter to Anna Bradley, chair of the SRA, on Thursday, Mr. Chalk also called for a follow-up to the SRA’s immigration advice review conducted last year, as he emphasised the importance of “ensuring public confidence in our immigration system.”
“I would strongly encourage you to use the full force of sanctions available to you against solicitors where there is a finding of a breach,” Mr. Chalk wrote.
“Solicitors are critical to the operation of a fair immigration system. I know that the overwhelming majority take their professional duties and obligations extremely seriously.