Nearly 50 potential terrorists or criminals were let into the UK after a Mitcham immigration officer doctored asylum applications and falsified computer records, a court heard.

Aliya Ali, 39, of Windemere Road, was sentenced to five years imprisonment today at Croydon Crown Court after pleading guilty to 12 counts of misconduct in a public office.

A total of 44 asylum seekers who should have been deported are thought to be unaccounted for in the UK as a result of the mum-of-two’s deception.

The court heard how Ali claimed she only broke the law to help Asian families settle in the country and earn a living.

But while handing down the sentence, Judge Ruth Downing said: “You say you only did it to assist because they wanted an honest life in this country.

“But you had no idea whether they fitted into that category or whether, hidden among them, were criminals, terrorists or the like.”

She added: “I am genuinely shocked. This is a most serious offence. You single-handedly decided on a course of action that enabled people to break the rules.

“Many speak of your high standing in the community and you should reflect on the disservice you have done to your community. It was a breach of trust in a senior position and you were promoted in the course of criminal activity.”

Ali was employed as a senior Home Office case worker in the immigration department at Lunar House, Croydon.

Miss Joan Mitchell, defending, said: “She is utterly ashamed. Her family has been torn apart and her husband may have to give up his job because of the children.”

The court heard how investigators had spent two months searching for information about the asylum seekers, mostly from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, that were helped by Ali.

Only five of the 49 have been traced.

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