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Bogus bride and groom arrested in Leeds before wedding

Home Office officials swoop during an operation at Leeds Register Office

Home Office officials swoop during an operation at Leeds Register Office

  • by Laura Bowyer
 

A bogus “bride” and “groom” were led away in handcuffs after they attempted to go through with a suspected sham marriage in Leeds.

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 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.

They also detained a 49-year-old Nigerian man who was found hiding in a toilet cubicle. Officers from the Home Office also seized a quantity of cash on Tuesday.

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

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

Mark Runagall, from Home Office criminal investigations, said: “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 UK.

Immigration officers revealed how they prevented around 70 “sham marriages” taking place in a single month by monitoring weddings before they took place at Leeds Town Hall in 2012.

 
 
 

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