An immigration lawyer has received £20,000 in damages after the Sunday Times falsely reported that he was advising asylum seekers to have fake gay marriages to obtain residency in the UK.

The paper apologised to Dr Akbar Malik of Malik Law Chambers for the story, which also erroneously appeared on PinkNews.co.uk, claiming the lawyer told immigrants that they could obtain a passport quicker by entering a sham civil partnership.

A correction in The Sunday Times said: “While the reporter honestly believed, on the basis of the information given to him at the time of his visit, that he was advised by Dr Malik, he did not in fact speak to Dr Malik.

“It follows that Dr Malik did not give the advice in question. We apologise to Dr Malik for the distress and embarrassment caused by our article.”

Dr Malik told PinkNews.co.uk: “The Sunday Times published a fake and bogus story about me. I never spoke to any of their reporters as alleged in their story dated February 19th 2006. Also even the photograph they used and alleged to be me is not me

The newspaper must also pay his legal costs.