‘Loophole’ resulting in bogus church marriages

Illegal immigrants bypassing government crackdown

23rd December 2009:
The menace of sham marriages in the UK continues. A Court hearing one such case was told that the illegal immigrants used a ‘loophole’ to find a way around a government crackdown on sham marriages.

The Court was, rather, told the people trying to get in the illegal way pay cash to wed European women with the right to live in Britain.

The matter pertains to alleged attempts by African immigrants. It was alleged that up to £15,000 each was handed over to the ‘fixers’ to arrange marriage with women from Europe so they could stay in the country legally.

It was further alleged they evaded the stringent checks associated with civil ceremonies by applying to marry in church as procedures to prove the authenticity of couples are less rigorous.

They allegedly fooled Anglican Church officials into believing they were genuine couples in love.

The UK Border Agency agreed to the existence of a ‘loophole’, which made it easier for bogus church marriages to go ahead still existed.

They added work was being carried on to improve checks to tackle the problem.
The alleged conspiracy was uncovered after a registrar doubtful about the number of Nigerian men marrying women from Slovakia and the Czech Republic give a clue to the police.

The police made stealthy recordings before carrying out  a series of arrests on the day of a double wedding in July.

Available information indicates Judge Peter Collier, QC, told the seven defendants, who admitted offences at Leeds Crown Court, they had ‘carried out an assault on controls of immigration in this country.’

Police said similar scams could be taking place elsewhere. The police, rather, believes the serious problem of sham marriages could be going on right across the country; and they just did not know how many of these sham marriages were there.

The government has already made it clear the bogus wives were being removed from the UK.

The UK Border Agency Regional Director Gail Adams said they have already removed from the country one of the four women arrested in September and are taking steps to remove the remaining bogus brides from the United Kingdom as soon as possible.

Adams said over recent years the agency has clamped down on sham marriages. As a result, the suspected sham marriages had fallen from over 3,500 in 2004 to under 400 in 2008.

‘The teams of police officials with the UK Border Agency have also teamed up with immigration staff to investigate and tackle the menace of sham marriages.

The Agency also declared the introduction of heavy penalties for “abuse of the marriage route”; and made clear it was now more difficult than ever for people to abuse the immigration system.

It was added all allegations regarding any type of sham marriage, including marriage for cash, bigamy and marriage to relatives are investigated and appropriate action is taken where evidence can be obtained.


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