London 2012: JIT to probe UK-travel scam claims

The Sun claims it busted a scam regarding travel staff offering fake passports, visas and entry into the London 2012

Afp/sidrah Moiz/web Desk July 23, 2012

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik formed a joint investigation team (JIT) on Monday to investigate the UK-travel scam claims made by the daily tabloid The Sun. The team would include officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The Director General FIA was also ordered to submit the investigation report to the Interior Ministry.

National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Tariq Malik suspended eight of its officials and also ordered inquiry into the matter.

The UK-based daily claimed to have busted a scam by a Lahore-based politician and Pakistani officials, which could have given a chance to "potential terrorists" to sneak into the United Kingdom along with Pakistan’s Olympic squad.

Pakistan's Olympic chef de mission Aqil Shah dismissed The Sun's claims.

"These are baseless reports," Shah told AFP. "This is an attempt to malign Pakistan. Even if someone gets a passport he cannot enter the Olympic Village without an Olympic accreditation card."

Pakistan's 39-strong delegation - minus Shah - is already in London and consists of 23 athletes and 16 officials.

Shah justified the number of officials.

"Hockey has at least six officials which are under the rules and then we have physicians and other coaches who are genuine members of Pakistan's contingent," said Shah.

Pakistan Olympic Association chief Arif Hasan was already in London and discussing the matter with the Pakistan High Commission, said Shah.

Two-month visa, London entry for £7,000

The Sun says that it broke into the crime ring of Pakistani officials and travel staff which were offering fake passports, visas and entry into the London 2012. The Sun further claims a Lahore-based politician named Abid Chodhary was also part of the ring.

The tabloid claims its investigator obtained a Pakistani passport with a false name. The investigator was told by Chodhary that they could get him a two-month visa and smuggle him into the London games as part of Pakistan’s Olympic squad in the athletes’ support team for £7,000.

The Sun also secretly filmed Chodhary while he explained the entire process to the investigator and told him that he could also get him into the opening ceremony.

MI6, UK’s Home Office, the UK Border Agency and the British High Commission in Pakistan were alerted about the scam and an investigation was initiated subsequently.

When the British High Commission was contacted by The Express Tribune, they said that the report by The Sun is “self-explanatory” and that nothing in detail could be told at the moment as it was “too early to say anything.”

British High Commission Spokesperson Imran Rana said, “We thank The Sun for highlighting this attempted deal and will be handling the evidence over to the Pakistani authorities.”