As whistleblower claims officials ignored sham marriages, 200 cases prioritized

About 50 names in register at church of St Peter and St Paul aliases Image

9th August 2010: Less than a month after a serving vicar was found guilty of conducting hundreds of sham marriages, the UK Border Agency is according priority to 200 cases for the purposes of investigation, amidst apprehensions that some of the bogus African brides and bridegrooms may never be found.

The cases have been prioritized after the vicar, Rev Alex Brown, from East Sussex was found guilty of breaching immigration laws.

The apprehensions stem from the fact that approximately 50 names in the marriage register at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonards-on-Sea are suspected to be aliases. In fact, the UKBA so far has not found their record in its databases.

To begin with, the immigration officers are tracking down scores of immigrants, who paid up to £15,000 to marry Eastern European volunteers for enabling them not just to stay in Britain, but also get the right to work and claim benefits.

In a related development, it is now being said that the number of Ghanaians in the UK are the highest among immigrants involved in sham marriages.

A Press Association report quotes a former immigration officer as claiming that government officials closed their eyes to the sham marriage scandal.

Being dubbed a whistleblower, official Neville Sprague, 56 has alleged he was thrown out by the UKBA as he wanted to investigate crimes the department was not willing to record in its statistics. He is believed to be taking the agency to a tribunal against the alleged unfair dismissal, the report said.

He told the Daily Mail that the shams involved West Africans, mainly from Ghana, who would pay more than £10,000 to marry a British citizen who would also be paid up to £7,000 to take part.

Sprague said he amassed evidence of bogus weddings, but his managers just did not want to know. They were really keen for him not to investigate.

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