Lawyer jailed for defrauding the Legal Aid Agency

A barrister has been jailed for defrauding the Legal Aid Agency, along with other lawyers, by falsely claiming defence legal costs.

Lawyer jailed for defrauding the Legal Aid Agency f

"They fraudulently took advantage of a statutory scheme"

Barrister and part-time immigration tribunal judge Rasib Ghaffer was jailed for three years for defrauding the Legal Aid Agency.

He and other lawyers conspired to inflate defence legal costs and work claimed in 2011 and 2012.

Ghaffar conspired with legal clerk Gazi Khan, solicitor advocate Azar Khan and solicitor Joseph Kyeremeh to defraud the taxpayer.

The prosecution followed a police investigation into fraudulent claims for Defendants’ Costs Orders submitted to the Legal Aid Agency National Taxing Team on behalf of acquitted defendants in criminal proceedings in Crown Courts.

Defendants who pay their own legal costs can claim some of this back from the taxpayer after they are acquitted. This is called a Defendant’s Costs Order (DCO).

In this case, defendants instructed solicitors and counsel to represent them privately in criminal proceedings.

Following their acquittals, they successfully applied to the courts for DCOs.

These orders allowed their instructed solicitors to claim payments of their own costs and disbursements (which included counsel’s agreed fees) from central government funds.

The evidence focused on four claims, arising from the legal costs of four acquitted defendants.

These defendants then applied for the legal costs of their defence to be paid by the taxpayer. These four claims totalled £1,856,584, of which £469,477 (25%) was paid out.

Gazi Khan, who led the criminal operation, worked as a clerk to Shadid Rashid, providing legal costs services to several solicitor firms.

Azar Khan was the principal partner in City Law Solicitors Ltd and according to evidence gathered by the prosecution, the firm started work on the case resulting in the claims on July 1, 2011, about 10 weeks before it concluded, yet claimed to have carried out over 500 hours work, costing over £162,000.

The firm’s claims also falsely backdated the work it had said it had done to include a long period when it was not instructed to represent any defendant, resulting in a payment of £93,000 from the taxpayer.

Joseph Kyeremeh was a principal partner in the same law firm.

His legal work resulted in a claim relating to 650 hours of work, at a value of over £176,000, with £60,000 coming from public funds.

Ghaffar was responsible for a fee note in his name for £184,000, relating to over 350 hours of work. But the evidence shows he had only been instructed seven days before the conclusion of the case.

The four men were convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

Ghaffar was jailed for three years.

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.

“The Metropolitan Police and the CPS worked closely together to bring these corrupt legal professionals to justice and are now facing the consequences of their wrongdoing.

“The CPS will now commence confiscation proceedings to reclaim the defendants’ proceeds derived from the fraud.”

Lead Editor Dhiren is our news and content editor who loves all things football. He also has a passion for gaming and watching films. His motto is to "Live life one day at a time".

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