UK Border Agency to crack down on sham marriages

The UK Border Agency will continue cracking down on immigrants who seek to abuse the system, Simon Walker, acting regional director, UK Border Agency has said.

He made the warning after a gang that attempted to stage a sham marriage to dodge UK immigration laws jailed.

Pakistani Tahir Naqqash tried to marry Slovak Zlatica Balogova in an attempt to stay in the UK. The plan was foiled when UK Border Agency officers interrupted their 'wedding' at Bradford and Keighley register office on 24th May last year.

Three other people, Slovaks Elemer Danihel, Ervin Lakatos and Natasa Cicuova, who were all involved in the conspiracy, were also arrested.

Leeds Crown Court heard how the couple did not share a common language, and that Naqqash had paid £3,000 to Balogova to marry him.

The UK Border Agency officers even visited Balogova at her home the day before the ceremony to warn her that they believed the planned marriage to be a sham, and that she would be arrested if she proceeded.

The gang ignored the warning and were arrested at the register office the following day.

Naqqash was in the country on a student visa which was due to expire on 31st May last year. A search of his house following his arrest uncovered a 'crib sheet', with details of his wife to be.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to breach immigration law and perjury shortly before the case was due to go to trial. All the other members of the gang denied the charge.

During the trial the court heard that the Balagova was the partner of Danihel and that they lived together with their children. All the gang members were found guilty after the three week trial, held at Bradford crown court in March.

“This was a cynical attempt to cheat immigration law,” Mr. Walker said, adding that the sentences handed out “reflect the severity of the offence.”

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