Illegal immigrant jailed for conning ex-British minister

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An illegal immigrant from Tonga was jailed for eight months on Thursday for conning Britain's former top legal officer into hiring her as a cleaner, in a case which triggered a political storm last year.

Loloahi Tapui, 27, was hired as a housekeeper for then attorney general Patricia Scotland in January 2009 despite her student visa having expired four years previously.

Scotland, a baroness, was fined 5,000 pounds (7,200 dollars, 5,900 euros) in September for having illegally employed Tapui, and one of her aides resigned amid the row which erupted over the affair.

A jury convicted Tapui last month of fraud, possessing a false identity document, and for overstaying her student visa.

At the Old Bailey court in central London, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said: "You were a good and trusted employee. There is no doubt that she felt terribly let down by your deception."

He sentenced her to eight months in jail but reduced this by 24 days to take into account the time she spent wearing an electronic tag after her conviction.

Scotland, who lost her job when the Labour government lost the May 6 elections, said she mistakenly hired Tapui at a "difficult time" in her personal life, only a week after the funeral of her brother and a little over a month after her mother died.

© 2010 AFP

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