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Romanian fraudster who helped to steal 10m in benefits is allowed to stay in Britain to protect her human rights

Lavinia Olmazu provided false National Insurance numbers to immigrants Olmazu should have been deported automatically upon her release She was able to persuade judges because she has son, 12, it would be an attack on their human rights if they were to be deported back to Romania Home Office appealed against immigration court's decision to let her stay
By Larisa Brown PUBLISHED: 13:21, 7 October 2012 | UPDATED: 13:22, 7 October 2012

Lavinia Olmazu is able to remain in Britain with her 12-year-old son despite funneling 2.9million in false benefit claims to 172 Romanian gypsies

A Romanian gypsy campaigner jailed for her role in a 10million benefits fraud has been allowed to stay in Britain to protect her human rights. Lavinia Olmazu, 33, and her accomplice, Alin Enachi, funneled 2.9million in false benefits claims to 172 Romanian gypsies after providing false National Insurance numbers to immigrants. Olmazu was sentenced to more than two years in prison in 2010 and should have been deported automatically upon her release. But she has been allowed to stay in Britain after challenging the Home Secretary's attempt to have her removed by exploiting a loophole in the Human Rights Act. She has been able to persuade judges that because she has a 12-year-old son it would be an attack on their rights if they were to be deported. Her case will raise further concerns over how judges are interpreting Article Eight of the act, which guarantees the 'right to family life', to allow criminals to escape deportation by arguing that being removed from Britain would be a breach of that right. As reported in the Daily Telegraph, the Home Office had believed it was appropriate for her child to return to Romania with her, as he is Romanian-born, has a father who lives in the country, and lived with his Romanian-speaking mother and her Romanian partner until she was jailed. But when the Home Office tried to deport her she argued to immigration judges that being deported would breach her human rights because she has a son, 12, who she said was essentially British, having spent much of his life in the UK. She claimed he did not speak Romanian fluently. The case is among the first to be considered by senior immigration judges after an attempt by Theresa May to make it more difficult

for immigration criminals to stay. In June Mrs May declared war on judges who refused to deport foreign criminals because of their human rights, saying the courts should stop allowing overseas prisoners, law-breakers and illegal immigrants to stay in Britain on the grounds that they have a right to a family life. She promised a vote in Parliament to ram home to judges what the public believe and persuade them to take into account what Parliament has said. Failure by the judiciary to listen will result in new laws to curb the exploitation of the human rights legislation by foreign criminals, Mrs May said. MPs of all parties voted unanimously in support of the stricter guidelines. In the case of Olmazu, the Home Office appealed against the immigration court's decision to let her stay, but a senior judge ruled her son had a right to continue his schooling in Britain.

Activist: Olmazu, who claimed illegal benefits for Roma gipsies, at a demonstration in South Africa in 2001

Senior tribunal judge Andrew Jordan said the immigration courts still have significant leeway to decide where deportations should take place.

Judge Jordan said in his ruling: 'There is inevitably room for different judges to reach a different conclusion on proportionality on the same facts.' Olmazu, who has addressed the United Nations, was employed by two London boroughs and homeless charity the Big Issue to help integrate Romanian gipsies into British society.

The Home Secretary said the courts should stop allowing overseas prisoners, law-breakers and illegal immigrants to stay in Britain on the grounds that they have a right to a family life

She was jailed after she abused her position of trust with the authorities and Roma community to orchestrate an elaborate fraud that cost taxpayers millions and gained her and her partner tens of thousands of pounds. They charged 80 each to provide hundreds of immigrants from Romania with false National Insurance numbers so they could claim thousands of pounds in benefits they were not entitled to. Armed with an NI number, their clients claimed handouts including child benefit, child tax credit, working tax credit, as well as use the NHS and other welfare services. Under rules introduced when Romania joined the EU in 2007, Romanian immigrants cannot get a National Insurance number which is the key to getting benefits unless they can prove they have paid employment lined up. Operating from their suburban home in Woodford Green, Essex, they provided 368 false NI numbers. Of these, 172 were successfully used to claim benefits resulting in fraud totalling 2.9million. But at the time it was reported the scam could have cost taxpayers up to 10 million if all of the fraudulent documents had been used, police revealed. Olmazu was jailed for two years and three months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply articles for use in fraud. Following her release, Olmazu now works for the Media Diversity Institute, a charity which has received hundreds of thousands in sponsorship from the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development. Dominic Raab, the Conservative MP, said tougher action was needed to counter what he described as 'judicial sabotage' and called for clearer legislation to force judges to follow the Home Secretary's will. He told the Telegraph: 'We need a new UK Borders Act that enables the authorities to remove serious criminals, ignore spurious human rights claims and override the current judicial sabotage.'


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