Five members of a wedding party, including the would-be bride and groom, were arrested at a Town Hall in Yorkshire as part of an investigation into the organisation of sham marriages.
Javed Iqbal, 38, a Holmfirth cricketer, was arrested on Tuesday afternoon after officers from the UK Border Agency’s Yorkshire Immigration Crime Team disrupted the wedding as Mr Iqbal and a 27-year-old British woman prepared to exchange vows in Huddersfield.
Both were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to assist unlawful entry into the UK. Three other men were also detained at the ceremony, all British nationals, aged 30, 41 and 44-years. All of the individuals arrested were taken to Leeds Police Station for questioning, where they remained yesterday.
Officers also carried out searches at a number of addresses yesterday in the Huddersfield and Leicester area in connection with the investigation. The UK Border Agency said a large quantity of cash had also been seized as part of the operation.
Jeremy Oppenheim, regional director at the UK Border Agency, said: “This operation shows that the UK Border Agency is working to stop those who attempt to cheat immigration laws.
“This is the latest in a series of suspected sham marriages that the UK Border Agency has disrupted in the past month in Yorkshire, reflecting the lengths the agency is going to across the country to crack down on this sort of immigration abuse.
“We have strong links with churches and registrars and we will not hesitate to take the strongest possible action when a marriage is not genuine.”
Acting Det Insp, Pete Gallagher, of the UK Border Agency’s Immigration Crime team said: “Our belief is that this marriage was carried out for the sole purpose of the groom circumventing UK immigration laws.
“This is the latest in a series of similar operations that the UK Border Agency has disrupted. All people previously arrested have been charged with serious criminal offences and we will continue to target any marriage that is suspected of not being genuine.”
Iqbal, a Pakistani, of Yews Hill Road, Thornton Lodge, is an all-rounder who plays for Holmfirth.
Reports of suspected sham marriages have risen by 66 per cent in a year as wedding officials have got wiser to tactics being used.
“This is the latest in a series of similar operations that the UK Border Agency has disrupted. All people previously arrested have been charged with serious criminal offences and we will continue to target any marriage that is suspected of not being genuine,” Mr Gallagher added.