A BARRISTER and a solicitor were early today (Hong Kong time) jailed for three years for their role in a fraudulent scheme that allowed wealthy Hong Kong residents to buy the right to live in Britain. Mr Justice Butler told Southwark Crown Court in London that Paul Samrai, 37, and James Walker, 48, had participated in a 'thoroughly reprehensible deception . . . involving large-scale fraud and forgery of a sophisticated kind'. Walker had been found guilty after a three-week trial of conspiracy to use false documents, conspiracy to defraud the Home Office and falsely certifying applications. Samrai had admitted one charge of conspiracy to use false documents. Mr Justice Butler said each of the applications were made on behalf of 'respectable members of the Hong Kong community who did not know their applications were being pursued in an illegal manner'. 'Only a custodial sentence can be justified, even if at the end of the day you profited little from what was done,' he said. Samrai had run the main operation from the offices of Opportunities UK in the Shun Tak Centre, Sheung Wan, while Walker had used the name of a prestigious London law firm to convince the Home Office the applications were genuine. With the help of Hong Kong travel agency boss Tony Man, a former chairman of Opportunities UK, doctors, lawyers and surgeons were duped into believing they qualified for British citizenship under a 'discretionary rule' that did not exist. Man, who is still under investigation, was a prominent businessman who had many influential friends, the court heard. Clients paid about $500,000 for the agency to submit their applications for full British passports. Samrai and Man worked together to forge documents in support of the applications which would then be certified as legal by Walker. The criteria for right of abode in Britain is to have lived in the country for five years before 1983 or to have lived there for 10 years continuously. The Home Office has not decided whether to revoke the 40 illegally issued passports.