70 sham marriages stopped in Leeds

Border Agency staff spent four weeks interviewing everyone getting married at Leeds register office, which exposed a high number of sham cermonies.


Immigration officers have put off 70 sham marriages from taking place in just one month at an active city centre register office.

 A BBC spokeswoman said the 70 sham marriages were stopped over two separate fortnights towards the end of last year. The two services which were broken up by Border Officials and caught on camera took place at the end of January.

The BBC's Inside Out Yorkshire programme followed the officers, filming them bursting in on two services involving men living in the UK illegally.

In the first operation, officers pounced on a wedding between a French bride and an Indian groom whose leave to remain in the UK had been cancelled. A second wedding between a Pakistani man and a Lithuanian woman was also cut short.

Detective Inspector Adrian Watkins, from the UK Border Agency, said surely since they started looking at these last March, there had been a boost. The increase has been brought to their attention on a more regular basis, possibly because the registrars themselves were more aware of the problem.

Church officials also have to look intimately at who is getting married. The rector of Leeds Parish Church Canon Tony Bundock said owing to some of the abuses that did take place a few years ago,  they were now required to check that the address the couples  had  given were genuine by actually visiting them, going to both houses, both the bride and the groom.

Rector added it was imperative to check the identity of the couples getting their wedding registered  by seeing some documentary evidence which proved that they were who they say they were.


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