Richard Savill, Telegraph (UK), Jun. 10
Immigration could be running at six times higher than official figures, a Home Office official told a court yesterday.
Robert Owen said he could not even “guesstimate” the true number of foreign nationals living in Britain.
He was giving evidence in the trial at Swansea Crown Court of three Chinese accused of people trafficking on behalf of snakehead gangs.
Mr Owen, who is seconded to the National Criminal Intelligence Service to advise on snakeheads, said there were no “serious removal arrangements” to send asylum seekers back to China.
Most of those who were rejected stayed on, he said.
“Accepted figures for people coming in are significantly higher than official figures.”
Mr Owen told the court the number of routes into Britain was “unbelievable”. Lorry drivers were being paid up to £3,000 to bring groups in.
He described the trafficking as structured and sophisticated.
“Immigration officers take out a few shipments but we are obviously missing an awful lot of people.”
Boat owners in France, Holland “and all the way up the North Sea” were approached by snakeheads and asked to drop immigrants “close to the shore of the UK”.
Most of his information was “highly classified” but Leighton Davies, QC, prosecuting, asked him to give an overview of immigration from China.
Mr Owen said some people were simply smuggled into the country and disappeared among Chinese communities. Others claimed asylum but vanished before the application process was exhausted.
Many incomers deliberately destroyed any documentation they had immediately prior to setting foot in Britain.
“Any person can arrive without documents and say, ‘I want asylum’. As soon as the magic words are said immigration have to consider it.”
The prosecution claim staff at the Dragon Palace Chinese takeaway in Aberystwyth acted on behalf of a snakehead gang.
Guo Chen, 34, Xing Cheng, 21, and Nualk Miah, 32, deny money laundering and assisting illegal entry into Britain.
The trial continues.