THREE law firm workers have been given prison sentences totalling 16 years after a mass immigration fraud.

Manager of the the Lewisham branch of Macauley Blackman Solicitors, Frances Enahoro, aged 51, was sentenced to seven years for masterminding a conspiracy giving more than 500 immigrants false documents supporting illegal residency in the UK.

Grace O'Connor, aged 50, of Codrington Hill, Lewisham, and Oiumuyiwa Akinrin, aged 45, from Peckham, worked with Enahoro, charging clients hundreds of pounds for the fake documents.

O'Connor and Akinrin were each sentenced to four years on July 15 at Southwark Crown Court.

The court heard how over a two-year period the trio provided thousands of forged documents to Nigerians, Jamaicans and Ghanaians, who falsely claimed they had been in the country for 14 years.

Under the 14-year residency rule, people who have lived in the UK for 14 years are allowed to apply to remain whether or not they entered the country illegally, provided they are also of good character.

Enahoro, of Capstan Mews, Gravesend, provided clients with contact details and arranged for the applications to be made.

O'Connor forged the documents while Akinrin provided them to Enahoro's clients.

The trio were caught when an undercover detective posing as a Ghanaian was given an envelope of forged papers, including BT bills, bank statements and NHS cards, for £1,200.

Senior investigating officer Mark Teodorini, from the Met's economic and specialist crime command, said: “With the assistance of Michael Akinrin and Grace O'Connor they provided thousands of false documents to support bogus claims, in the process charging high fees for the service.”

The three were found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate illegal entrance to remain in the United Kingdom. They had denied the charge.

O'Connor pleaded guilty to fraudulently producing pay slips and was sentenced to one year, to run consecutively.

UK Border Agency intelligence officer, Jan Polanowski, said: “Thanks to vigilant case workers who noticed that these documents were forged, we were able to refuse the applicants involved. We are now working to remove them from the UK.

“Working with the police we will continue to crackdown on those responsible for organised immigration crime. People in a position of responsibility who attempt to profit by abusing our immigration procedures must understand that we will take firm action against them."