The UK Border Agency arrested a bride and groom literally at the alter yesterday, as part of its continuing crusade against sham marriages and immigration fraud.
UKBA officers interrupted the wedding just as it was about to start at Sheffield Register Office, located in a busy shopping district in the city, and led away a 36-year-old man originally from Afghanistan and a 21-year-old Slovakian woman in handcuffs.
The Guardian reports the couple, wearing full wedding attire, were escorted past shoppers in the busy plaza along with two guests who had been invited to the wedding. The four were then taken to a police station for questioning.
The would-be groom is apparently a failed asylum-seeker.
The arrests follow earlier action to tackle suspected sham marriages in Sheffield with 15 people already arrested and charged following other suspected sham weddings this summer.
These intelligence led operations are part of on-going nationwide action by the UK Border Agency to tackle illegal working, sham marriages, bogus colleges and organised immigration crime.
A UKBA spokesman said the Agency had stopped 53 sham weddings over the summer and arrested 118 participants.
Jeremy Oppenheim, UKBA regional director for the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, said:
"We will not tolerate immigration abuse and once again our immigration crime teams have shown that they will crack down on those attempting sham marriages. Our aim now is to identify the organisers who would seek to profit from this kind of illegal activity, and destroy their criminal business.
"The UK Border Agency is working closely with registrars to identify marriages that may not be genuine. We do not expect vicars or registrars to be experts in immigration law or spotting forged documents -- that's our job. But if they have any suspicions about whether a relationship is genuine, we would urge them to get in touch with us."
- Bride and groom arrested in crackdown on immigration scams (Guardian)
- Wedding party arrested in suspected sham marriage (UK Border Agency)
- Immigration law (Findlaw.co.uk)
- Immigration law Q&A (Community)