Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ex-asylum seeker given UK citizenship after passing 'Life In Britain' test is jailed for trying to take exam for another immigrant

A former asylum seeker who was given British citizenship by taking a 'Life In the UK Test' was in jail today after he was caught trying to sit the same test for another immigrant.

Barzan Sabah, 28, attempted to get citizenship as a 'favour' for a friend who was expected to fail the test.

The college student had booked himself in to take the 45-minute exam, which costs £35 and asks questions about various aspects of UK life.

He then tried to fool staff by presenting a forged driving licence with someone else's name on it as proof of his eligibility.

But UK Border Agency staff visited the test centre in Preston, Lancashire, and became suspicious when they interviewed Sabah, Preston Crown Court heard.
'Becoming a British citizen is one of the greatest privileges this country can bestow on a person born outside this country and should be treated as an absolute honour. This case has proven that you can’t cheat your way to British citizenship'
MP Nigel Evans

Sabah, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was jailed for eight months for possession of a false document and four months for fraud, to run concurrently in one of the first cases of its kind in the UK.

Today, Tory MP Nigel Evans condemned Sabah, saying he had helped Britain fall prey to 'foreign predators'.

Mr Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, said: 'I think this is clearly an exemplary sentence that should act as a warning to anyone else that this simply will not be tolerated.

'This case has proven that you can’t cheat your way to British citizenship.

'People have died in wars to protect the British citizen and identity from foreign predators and it absolutely should be protected.'

Earlier the court heard how Iraqi Kurd Sabah, who fled Saddam Hussein and came to the UK in 2000, had agreed to take the test for a friend of an acquaintance he had met in a restaurant.

The court heard Sabah had been asked 'several times' to take the test by a man he knew in Bradford. He eventually agreed, insisting the man made all the necessary arrangements and paid his costs.

Sabah - who was not paid for his part in the con - then attended the test centre in Preston to take the test in January.

The 'Life In The UK' test, introduced in 2005, requires applicants to answer 24 multiple choice questions on everyday needs such as housing, money, health and education

He presented a UK driving licence bearing his photograph and the name Ata Hasan Gorman - a man he had never met, whose address was given as Sunderland.

The Life In The UK test was introduced in 2005 and is a legal requirement for anyone wishing to stay in the UK indefinitely. Applicants are required to achieve a 75 per cent pass mark on a range of multiple choice questions covering knowledge and understanding of employment matters and everyday needs such as housing, money, health and education.

The test lasts for 45 minutes during which time the candidate is required to answer 24 multiple choice questions.

Of the 906,464 tests taken in 2009, 263,641 were failed.

The pass rates for people from Iraq, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Turkey were below 50 per cent.

Example questions
Which of these courts uses a jury system?
a) Magistrates b) Crown c) Youth d)County
Which statement is correct?
a) A TV licence is required for each TV in a home b) A single TV licence covers all TVs in a home
Who or what is PG?
a) A brand of tea b) Parental guidance: a film classification where some scenes are not suitable for children c) A personal guide, a British-born mentor provided to each immigrant applying for nationality
What is the voltage in British homes?
a) 110 volts b) 240 volts c) 260 volts

But as Sabah sat the test - which he had already successfully passed to gain his status as a British citizen - staff became suspicious.

Sabah was arrested and immediately admitted he was not the person named on the document, saying he had never met Mr Gorman and had been paid only his expenses to take the test on his behalf.

He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and possession of a false identity document with intent. The man he was asked to represent was never traced by authorities.

In mitigation, defence counsel Gareth Jones said Sabah had fled the atrocities in Iraq and had put himself through college using Asylum Support funding paid for by the taxpayer.

He gained A-Levels and completed the first semester of a university degree in International Business Management.

Mr Jones added: 'He came to this country in 2000, legitimately, using a legitimate passport. He has lived in this country for some time and is a British citizen.

'He made a bad judgement call. All he has tried to do is educate himself to get a job to work here, to fend for himself without relying on benefits - ultimately to provide a living for his mother who is very ill in Iraq.'

But passing sentence, Judge Pamela Badley told Sabah: 'The UK Citizenship Test is a route for people who have come to this country who want to make a better, settled life in the UK.

'It is entirely wrong that it should be devalued by people either not taking it seriously or by taking it on behalf of someone who is not entitled to take it - presumably someone who would not have passed the test.

'They would have had all the benefits of citizenship in this country and that is clearly a very serious matter.

'You are said to be a role model but someone who breaks the law in this dramatic way is not a proper role model.'

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