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Immigration law: UKBA launches crackdown on sham weddings

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Following fast on the heels of last week's conviction of , found , two more clergymen have been arrested by immigration officers on suspicion of officiating over sham marriages.

The reports that Reverend Brian Shipsides, 54, and Reverend Elwon John, 43, were held at their homes in Forest Gate, east London, yesterday as investigators began searching their churches, All Saints and St Edmunds.

Apparently three other people were arrested on Saturday as a Nigerian migrant prepared to wed a Dutch woman at All Saints.

Detective Inspector Karl Amos says the London immigration crime team have been watching both churches for some time:

"Today's arrests were part of an ongoing investigation into suspected sham marriages at a church in Forest Gate.

"We have also carried out searches at a number of addresses, and will now seek to examine closely the evidence that we have recovered."

Gareth Redmond, South East area director for the UK Border Agency, said:

"Tackling sham marriage is a top priority for us. We are working closely with registrars and the Church to identify suspect marriages. If there is evidence to suggest that a wedding may be bogus we very quickly investigate, and, where necessary, intervene to stop it happening.

"Let's be clear. A marriage certificate alone does not give foreign nationals the right to live and work in the UK. Their relationship has to be genuine. If it's not, they will face prosecution or deportation.

"Applications for the right to stay in the UK from those involved in these weddings have been on hold since the investigation began. They will now be reviewed."

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