A fake court interpreter was able to translate evidence in 140 cases before being exposed following a high-profile grooming gang trial, a court has heard.
Mirwais Patang, 27, worked for contracting giant Capita despite forging his qualifications, stealing a legitimate court interpreter’s identity and even having a friend pose as him in court.
City of London Police said he earned at least £65,500 between March 2012 and August 2016.
Patang’s lies were uncovered following the 2015 Aylesbury grooming gang trial, in which he had been paid to interpret for abuser Taimoor Khan.
Capita alerted HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to discrepancies in timesheets, triggering a police investigation that showed Patang had paid an unqualified friend to work in his name.
Patang himself was working under two identities – one in his name but using forged qualifications, and another posing as a legitimate court interpreter.
Patang pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud, three counts of forgery and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud at Southwark Crown Court.
He was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, on Friday and must complete 300 hours of unpaid work.
Detective Andy Cope, from the City of London Police’s fraud team, said: “The blind greed shown by Patang, and the total disregard for the implications of his actions and what it might mean for the integrity of serious criminal trials, is truly appalling.
“By thinking of only his own financial gain, he has undermined confidence in the criminal justice system and put victims of crime through unfair stress and worry.”
Patang, of Stirling Road in Hillingdon, registered as a Pashto and Dari interpreter in 2012.
He used his own identity while working for Capita, which was contracted by the Ministry of Justice to provide court translation services, between March 2012 and October 2016.
Patang went through Capita’s registration, vetting, security and quality checks but doctored a community interpreting certificate in order to be fraudulently employed as a “tier three” interpreter. He earned £35,574 for work on 88 cases under his own name.
But in September 2014, Patang stole the identity of a legitimate court interpreter who had higher “tier one” status, which is more highly paid because of the additional qualifications and experience needed.
Using their identity, he earned more than £30,000 for work on 52 cases between September 2014 and July 2015.
In 2015, Capita alerted HMCTS to discrepancies in timesheets submitted by Patang while supposedly interpreting for Khan in the Aylesbury child sexual abuse case.
Patang tried to claim for an additional 93 hours of work, triggering an investigation by City of London Police’s fraud team.
Officers found evidence that Patang had inflated his claims for the case and was using the fake identity.
Capita then confirmed he was also carrying out interpreting work in his own name, and police found the qualifications he provided to be forgeries.
A review of the translations provided by Patang in court was conducted, and police who listened to audio files from the Aylesbury grooming child realised Khan’s interpreter was not Patang.
He had paid his friend, Solimann David – who also had no qualifications – £1,400 to attend court on his behalf and provide translating services for eight weeks of the trial.
David, 27, of Pinner Road in Hillingdon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for a year, and 100 hours of unpaid work.
This article first appeared in Independent