Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 15:15 UK

Cleaner 'showed proof of right to work' to law chief

Loloahi Tapui
Loloahi Tapui is a former cleaner to Baroness Scotland

The attorney general's ex-cleaner, who is accused of lying about her right to work in the UK, told a court she gave her boss papers proving her status.

Loloahi Tapui said she handed Lady Scotland documents that included her pay slips and a CV.

But she said that the minister never asked her about her immigration status.

The 27-year-old Tongan also said she was paid £95,000 for her story by the Mail on Sunday, with £19,000 commission going to PR expert Max Clifford.

Counterfeit visa stamp

The housekeeper, of Chiswick, west London, admits possessing a passport with a counterfeit visa stamp between June 7 2006 and September 19 2009, but denies using it to establish facts about herself and earn money.

Tapui also denies fraud by dishonestly making a false representation that she was entitled to work in the UK.

During cross-examination, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith asked Tapui: "You took the documents you had along so that you could show her that you were lawfully in the country and you were entitled to work?"

Tapui said: "That's correct."

Tapui should have left the UK in February 2005 but stayed and started work as a cleaner for the Attorney General in January 2009, Southwark Crown Court in London heard.

'Legality to work'

During Thursday's proceedings, Tapui was also asked by Duncan Penny, prosecuting, whether she agreed that if Lady Scotland believed those documents entitled her to work in the UK, the minister would have been misled.

Tapui said: "No."

She insisted she did not show her passport or any letter from the Home Office to Lady Scotland, but admitted that she took her CV, which listed her previous jobs at hotels in the UK.

Asked by Mr Penny if, by taking her CV, she "intended to suggest to the reader that the individual, namely you, had been working legally", Tapui said: "Yes".

Tapui denied that the reality of her situation was that she deceived Lady Scotland, who was referred to by her married name of Patricia Mawhinney.

But despite admitting that the documents were intended to show she was entitled to work, Tapui added: "I didn't say to Patricia Mawhinney that I've got the right to work in the country. She never asked me of my status or my legality to work in the country.

"There was no conversation about immigration status and my right to work in the UK."

Christopher Hehir, defending Tapui, said his client was not "in it for the money" as she had turned down Lady Scotland's offer to pay her £8 per hour and had accepted just £6 per hour instead.

But Tapui agreed that she and her solicitor husband Alex Zivancevic were having problems repaying their mortgage at the time she was offered payment for the national newspaper deal.

Earlier this week the court was told that Tapui told Baroness Scotland she had nothing to worry about, but her visa had expired by four years.

The trial continues, with the jury of eight men and four women expected to retire to consider verdicts on Friday.

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