Three illegal immigrants from India have been jailed for four months for using false documents to obtain work on steel major Corus' site in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, and now face deportation.
Corus is currently in the midst of takeover offers by India's Tata Steel and Brazilian steel-maker CSN.
The three illegal immigrants used false National Insurance cards to obtain work on the Corus site, and have now been served deportation notices.
They were sentenced last week by district judge Daniel Curtis, sitting at North Lincolnshire Magistrates' Court.
The three are Santokh Singh, 30, Sarabjit Singh, 39, and Ravinder Singh, 42. They admitted possessing false National Insurance documents.
According to reports from Scunthorpe, Curtis told the three that the normal practice of releasing prisoners halfway through their sentence may not apply in their cases. "That is a matter for the immigration authorities," he said.
Dennis Aisthorpe, prosecuting lawyer, said that Sarabjit Singh entered Britain in 1999, in the back of a lorry, reportedly from Ukraine. Santokh Singh was also said to have entered the country 10 months ago in the back of a lorry. The third defendant, Ravinder Singh, had been in Britain for about two and a half years.
"It is believed he (Ravinder Singh) was an asylum-seeker who overstayed his allowance," Aisthorpe said and added: "They obtained work at the Corus steelworks in Scunthorpe. On checking the records, those details were actually allocated to other people, including women."
Andrew Pascoe, who represented the three, told the district judge: "This is part of a very large inquiry. I think it is fair to say the enquiries are still continuing, and will be for some time, into how these three and others got into the country."
"They really are the participants — they are not the big players. They left India for various reasons — one of which, I suppose, was to find work. The means how they actually came here would be very difficult to unravel."
He said it was likely they might not even know the proper identities of those who arranged for them to obtain the documents, and informed the court that his clients had now been served with deportation notices.
Curtis told the defendants: "This offence has a maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment. But I take the view you three are, as your solicitor described you, pawns in a greater game. And I will sentence you on that basis."
A spokeswoman for Corus told the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph: "We don't comment on sub-contractors working for the main contractor on this project."