A Kurdish conman was today behind bars after being caught trying to cheat in a UK Citizenship test.
Barzan Sabah, 28, who had already been granted his own permit to live in the UK, tried to trick his way to winning citizenship for someone else, as a “favour” for a friend.
But when he presented a fake driving licence as proof of his eligibility at a Preston test centre, staff became suspicious and called in the police.
Sabah was arrested and charged with fraud and was yesterday – in one of the first cases of its kind ever in the UK – convicted and jailed.
Sabah, who came to the UK from Iraq in 2000, was hailed a “role model” for the Kurdish community after passing A-levels and gaining a place on a university degree course when he came to the UK seeking asylum.
But passing sentence, Judge Pamela Badley told Sabah: “A role model who breaks the law in this dramatic way is not a proper role model.”
Preston Crown Court heard how Sabah 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 - attended the test centre in Guildhall Street, Preston, to take the UK Citizenship Test in January.
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.
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.
Nigel 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.
“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.
“People have died in wars to protect the British citizen and identity from foreign predators and it absolutely should be protected.”
The citizenship test, Life in the UK, 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% 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.
Gareth Jones, defending, told the court Sabah had fled the atrocities in Iraq and had put himself through college using Asylum Support funding, gaining A Levels and completing the first semester of a university degree in International Business Management.
He said: “He came to this country in 2000, legitimately, using an legitimate passport. He has lived in this country for some time and is a British Citizen.
“He made a bad judgement call.”
He added: “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.”
Judge Badley told Sabah, of Heddon Walk, Bradford; “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 and it is entirely wrong that that 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.”
She jailed him for eight months for possession of a false document and four months for fraud, to run concurrently.
Last year company directors Abdi Yusuf, Mohammed Yusuf and Mustafa Yassin, of Sheffield Learning Centre, were jailed for conspiracy to defraud the UK Borders Agency after the company issued more than 5,000 test certificates.
The men, along with five other conspirators, received up to £1,000 for each test fraudulently passed.