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Neville Sprague, 59, who joined in the Home Office in 2001, was a uniformed officer and detective with the Metropolitan Police. He worked as the chief Immigration officer for the erstwhile Border Control Crime Team (BCCT) now known as National Tactical Operation for a £26,000 a year salary.
He was sacked in April 2009 after complaints about his role in the arrest of a man and his wife involved in an alleged bogus marriage scam. The allegations against him also involved claims that he was untidy, smelly and unkempt which he denied.
Mr Sprague from Croydon went to the tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.
The tribunal heard how everything was fine until Jill Smith the head of the BCCT promoted investigator Tony Buswell twice in a short time with the jobs never been advertisedJanet Griffiths, a Border Agency inspector, told the hearing that she never heard of a quick double promotion in more than 20 years in the service. Mr Sprague told the tribunal in Croydon, South London, that Mr Buswell’s accelerated promotion ‘annoyed’ most of the staff and that they disliked his ‘cocky attitude’. Things deteriorated further after his unit was asked to investigate a few cases of sham marriages by foreigners. It was obvious there was serious organised criminal activity occurring, he said. Sprague said that he had great difficulty in getting Buswell and Smith to show any interest. They begrudgingly allowed his team to investigate some cases already known about, but they did not want new cases investigated.
The tribunal was told how the Immigration officials played solitaire on their computers instead of looking out for foreigners taking part in sham marriages.
Neville Sprague said that it was obvious that there was a major criminal conspiracy involving foreign nationals who applied for ‘spouse’ visas that allowed them to stay in Britain and enjoy benefits and free services.
He added that when he tried to egg up his bosses to act, they showed little interest. He told the tribunal that he was singled out as he was reluctant to ignore serious organised criminal activity in the sham marriages.
Despite his interest to take action the department wanted to brush the scandal under the carpet and wanted him out of the way he said’Another inquiry unit based with them in Croydon could have investigated but showed ‘little interest’, and as he could not turned a blind eye to the whole issue he was sacked he said.
The tribunal would continue to hear the case.