‘Bride and groom’ arrested in ‘sham marriage’ swoop

Five people were arrested after a suspected sham wedding was prevented by a Home Office Criminal Investigations team in Leeds.
Five people were arrested after a suspected sham wedding was prevented by a Home Office Criminal Investigations team in Leeds.
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a bogus “bride and groom” were led away in handcuffs after they attempted to go through with a suspected sham marriage in a Yorkshire city.

Five people were arrested after Home Office immigration officials swooped before the ceremony was due to begin at Leeds Register Office.

A 32-year-old Nigerian “groom” and his would-be “bride”, a 29-year-old Slovakian woman, were both arrested moments before the ceremony was due to begin.

Two witnesses, a 48-year-old man from Slovakia and a 54-year-old Nigerian woman, were also arrested.

Officers also detained a 49-year-old Nigerian man who was found in a toilet cubicle.

A quantity of cash was also seized by Home Office officials during the operation on Tuesday morning.

Four people have been charged with conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law and the 54-year-old Nigerian woman has been released on bail following the swoop.

Officials say the operation was carried out with the full co-operation of the Superintendent Registrar.

Mark Runagall, from Home Office criminal investigations, said they act on any information they receive.

He added: “Where we receive information that a wedding may be suspicious we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene and arrest those involved.

“This investigation will now continue following the arrests we have made and the evidence we have seized.”

A “sham marriage” or civil partnership typically occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area as a means of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits in the United Kingdom.

Immigration officers revealed to the Yorkshire Post how they prevented around 70 “sham marriages” taking place in a single month in Yorkshire.

They monitored weddings before they took place at Leeds Town Hall in 2012.