UK sham marriage highlights latest crackdown

Published: 11/06/2010

A wedding set to take place last week in Oxford caused quite a scene, with the bride and groom leaving the registry office in a police car rather than the more traditional bridal car with trailing tin cans.

The reason for the break from tradition was the fact that the registrar suspected the couple – a young Polish woman and an Indian man – for trying to partake in a sham marriage. The registrar contacted police and immigration officials and the ceremony was never conducted.

A source connected to the investigation was quoted as saying, “Registrars speak to couples day in day out and they can spot when something doesn’t seem quite right. On the day itself the couple in question were taken to a side room. This is the usual practice and it allows officials to make sure neither party are drunk or being coerced into the union.”

But in this case, the registrar was using the side room as a sort of ‘holding bay’ for the couple while the police officers were brought in. Both officials from the UK Border Agency and the local Thames Valley Police were involved in the sting, with the dramatic events unfolding just moments before the ceremony was about to start. Officers burst through the doors and arrested the unnamed 19-year-old Polish ‘bride’ and her 30-year-old Indian ‘groom’ on suspicion of perjury, with the two witnesses also arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal immigration.

The UK Border Agency is keen to highlight how its latest focus on clamping down on sham UK marriages and UK marriage visa applications is working. The new UK Government is committed to drastically reducing the 529 sham marriages that took place in the UK in 2009, a massive 54 per cent rise from 2008, with soon-to-be-implemented plans to crack down on bogus marriages through tighter immigration controls and a clamp down on illegal workers.

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