Law firm suspends asylum seeker interpreters

By Katie Hunter & Liam McDougall
BBC Disclosure

Image caption,
Hazhar Jabbary worked as an interpreter on asylum cases

One of Scotland's biggest immigration law firms has suspended three interpreters amid a police investigation into reports of fraud in the asylum system in Glasgow.

The BBC has learned that Latta & Co has taken action against freelance interpreters working on Kurdish asylum seeker claims.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of the law firm.

It is understood police are investigating one interpreter.

They received allegations that Hazhar Jabbary had been telling asylum seekers he could guarantee their claim to stay in the UK would be successful in return for payment.

Last month, the BBC received information the interpreter was asking for money, and the amount charged ranged from about £4,000 to £25,000.

It is understood Mr Jabbary, who is a freelance interpreter, has worked in the past for a number of public authorities, including the police. More recently he has worked as a self-employed interpreter for Latta & Co in Glasgow.

Alternative interpreters

A spokesman for Latta & Co described the three interpreters as "rivals" and said it had suspended them when they became aware of the allegation.

He said: "They will never work for the firm again. We carried out a thorough investigation and took detailed legal advice but there was an obvious lack of clear evidence to back up claims of wrongdoing. As part of the process, we encouraged anyone with concerns to report the matter to the police.

"The work of interpreters is vital in this field of law and we are now working with a number of alternative interpreters to ensure our clients get the legal help they need."

Interpreters are employed to provide support to asylum seekers involved in making applications.

They receive an hourly rate for their services.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "Police in Glasgow are currently investigating reports of fraud relating to immigration and asylum applications in the city. Inquiries are at an early stage."

A lawyer for Mr Jabbary told the BBC: "On our advice he has nothing to say regarding this matter."