African, EU residents open to sham marriage exploitation

UKBA continues crackdown on bogus weddings


16th June 2010: African nationals continue to fall in the trap of sham marriages.

The arrest of a serving vicar in the crackdown on sham marriages has allegedly revealed that a substantial number of ceremonies recorded in the marriage register at the church were nothing less than "marriages of convenience".

These were between African nationals wanting to stay in Britain and eastern Europeans, having a right to live in the country.

The vicar was arrested in an 18-month inquiry into nearly 180 "sham marriages" at East Sussex church.

Even as a court was told that Africans and EU residents have been exploited, the vicar has denied immigrant weddings conspiracy.

Rev Alexander Brown married 383 couples in four years to July 2009 at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonards, East Sussex — a 30-time increase on 13 marriages held there in the preceding four years.

The prosecution said the 13 marriages in the four years to June 2005 involved couples with "Anglo-Saxon" sounding names. As such, there was a clear rise in African and European names, the prosecution asserted.

Speaking for the prosecution, David Walbank told Lewes crown court each of these wedding ceremonies were conducted knowing full well these were sham marriages, not entered into for the proper reasons, but as part of an immigration fraud.

Walbank asserted both the African and EU residents are vulnerable to exploitation. A substantial number of European nationals tend to be migrant workers coming to this country in the hope of a better life. But they find themselves living and working in conditions of real hardship.

Any information you want on marriages can be had from the Foreigners in UK website. You can log on to

The UKBA has already made it clear tying the knot with illegal migrants to facilitate their illegal entry into the UK can send the `bogus brides’ behind bars for six months, besides deportation.

You are also in for trouble, if you are a ‘third country national’ lending a helping hand in sham marriage.

The authorities concerned have made it clear: “Where a sham marriage involves an European Economic Area national sponsor, the third country national will not gain the right to reside in the UK and will be liable to enforcement action.’

The Agency has also constituted specialist teams of immigration officers and police to investigate and prosecute sham marriage cases.

The Home Office has been asserting all along that sham marriages would be challenged. Any foreign national in the country illegally through such means would be removed.

It said: ‘We will not tolerate immigration abuse and will punish those who break our immigration laws. If we identify marriages that do not appear to be genuine, we will challenge them and remove any foreign national in the country illegally.’

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