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Illegal immigrant House of Commons worker spared jail as she broke law for ''honourable reasons''; Adeyemi Zubairu, 37, applied for the job in desperation for cash after her late aunt contracted Ebola and needed medicine.

Byline: Rachel Mountain

An illegal immigrant who worked in a House of Commons cafe for two months before security noticed she had simply glued her picture onto a fake Swedish passport was spared jail today.

Adeyemi Zubairu, 37, was caught with the crudely forged ID document while working in the Palace of Westminster as a casual member of the catering team.

Her role at the Despatch Box Caf , through an external recruitment agency, saw her serve coffee to senior ministers, MPs and their guests.

She was arrested on 2 January after Palace of Westminster security staff spotted the poorly doctored passport - which was itself a forgery - and contacted the police.

Sierra Leonean Zubairu insisted she had applied for the job in desperation for cash after her aunt, who still lived in her native country, contracted Ebola and needed medicine.

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She was granted a suspended sentence today after a judge said she committed the crime for 'honourable reasons'.

Zubairu appeared at Southwark Crown Court wearing a gold earrings, a mint green scarf and black overcoat.

"Those who use counterfeit passports to evade immigration rules in this country in this country go to prison for 12 to 18 months at least and those who use them to evade employment strictures for six to 12 months," said Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith.

"I think this is one of those cases where I can be merciful and suspend the sentence.

"You are an overstayer, you came to this country in 2008 as a student, your visa expired in 2010, you married in 2014 and applied for leave to remain - that leave as it happens has now been granted.

"You were allowed to work for six months while your application for leave was considered and as part of that application you surrendered your valid Sierra Leonean passport which meant that you didn't have it in your possession.

"You have a young sister in Sierra Leone and she was looked after by your aunt.

"Tragically your aunt fell ill from Ebola and obviously required treatment. That treatment cost money.

"She died on 30 October and I have seen the certificate.

"Against that background you decided, against the advice of your husband, to try and get some work to try and get some money towards the medicine your aunt required and the upkeep your sister required," he said.

"A friend gave you a forged passport - not a very good one, it had no less than 32 areas of discrepancy on it - and your friend allowed you to work for an agency pretending to be her.

"You both rather amateurishly stuck a photo of you on a photo that was already in that passport.

"It was pure chance it seems that led to you being employed at the Palace of Westminster.

"There came a time when you were required to produce some identification, you produced that counterfeit passport with that photo stuck on it and it was immediately recognised for what it was."

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Judge Loraine-Smith continued: "You are not a person, I think for one moment, who naturally would commit a criminal offence but it was a criminal offence that you committed - a serious criminal offence.

"But I am satisfied you did so for honourable reasons."

Judging it to be an 'exceptional case', he gave Zubairu a six month sentence suspended for two years and ordered her to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work within 12 months.

He also requested that a transcript of the sentence to be sent to security at the Palace of Westminster.

In an unusual step, Zubairu was invited to give evidence at her sentencing.

Zubairu was granted a student visa to enter the UK between 2007 and 2010 but overstayed.

She married a Dutch national in January 2014 in 'proxy' wedding in Sierra Leone which neither party attended.

She wept as she told the court that her aunt - the sole financial supporter of her 13-year-old-sister - had died from Ebola leaving her struggling to find cash to send to Africa.

Zubairu said she was given the passport by her friend, also from Sierra Leone, who had registered to work with an agency under the false name Josephine Gibson.

Illegal

Zubairu telephoned the agency also pretending to be Ms Gibson and was offered the job at the Palace of Westminster.

Neither the CPS nor defence counsel were able to name the agency that accepted the bogus passport into their books.

"I didn't care what job it was, all I wanted was something to earn some money," she said.

She earned 'not more than £600' from the two-month stint, which was sent to her native country in small sums.

Prosecutor Peter Zinner said: "This is a case of using a false identity document with intent.

"It seems that on or about November 2014 the defendant obtained a job in the Palace of Westminster in the Despatch Box Caf as a barista serving coffee to members of parliament and their guests.

"She obtained that job by presenting a Swedish passport in the name Josephine Gibson."

He added: "It was an audacious application for work because the passport was a crude forgery - as it subsequently transpired that the defendant's photograph had been merely glued over the genuine owner of the passport's picture.

"This was discovered by security staff at the Palace of Westminster when in January this year - and the defendant had already been working in the Palace of Westminster for about two months - she had to present proof at the office in order to obtain a high-level security pass and in so doing she presented evidence of her identity initially as Josephine Gibson by presenting a Barclays bank statement in that name."

She was asked to produce something more substantial and 'hesitant' and 'reluctant' Zubairu showed them her bogus passport.

Mr Zinner told the court the passport was examined by the Home Office and 32 'areas of irregularity' were identified - including the crudely glued passport.

"It was a forgery of a Swedish passport that the defendant appears to have obtained and then further forged," he said.

"At the time of her offending she was an illegal over stayer, not entitled to work and clearly it was a serious breach of security at the Palace of Westminster."

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But Sarah Vine, for Zubairu, said her client had only been spotted when she was greeted by a member of the security team who was not familiar with her face.

She said Zubairu had desperately sought work in the UK to support her 14-year-old sister who now lives alone in Sierra Leone after her sole carer died from Ebola.

"She didn't go home because thing obviously in Sierra Leone are extremely difficult.

"The country, even before being hit by the Ebola epidemic, was and continues to be in a state of, if I characterise it as disrepair after the war that would be an understatement.

"She felt she would be better placed here with member of the Sierra Leonean community," said Ms Vine.

Zubairu appeared before a immigration judge on the 10 February who verbally indicated he was allowing her application and she would be granted leave to remain in the country, the court heard.

Zubairu, of Upnor Way, Camberwell, southeast London, admitted possessing a fake identity document.
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Title Annotation:News,UK News
Author:Rachel Mountain
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 5, 2015
Words:1224
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