A WARNING has been issued to criminals planning sham marriages in Yorkshire after a gang was jailed yesterday, including a man who had kept a crib sheet on his bride to be.
Pakistani Tahir Naqqash was due to marry Slovak mother-of-four Zlatica Balogova in Bradford in an effort to stay in the country.
But the wedding at the city’s register office was prevented last year when UK Border Agency officials arrested the couple, who were jailed yesterday. Three others, including Balogova’s partner, were also sentenced at Leeds Crown Court which heard a search of Naqqash’s home uncovered the crib sheet about his bride, who was being paid £3,000.
The group had attended the ceremony, despite warnings from UK Border Agency officers who were suspicious it was a sham and had told Balogova she risked arrest.
Yesterday Judge Christopher Batty told the court: “People need to understand that if they enter into these arrangements they will go to prison.”
Simon Walker, acting regional director at the border agency, branded it a “cynical attempt to cheat immigration law”.
“The message to those involved in this sort of activity is clear – we have the resources in place and our dedicated officers will work tirelessly to bring you to justice.”
The hearing was interrupted when Judge Batty noted an interpreter was not translating proceedings to a Slovak defendant and it emerged she could not understand defence counsel.
The hitch is the latest to hit courts after a contract for interpreting was awarded by the Ministry of Justice to a single agency.
The interpreter was replaced by a volunteer from the public gallery, who told the court she was boycotting the agency but was willing to help. Judge Batty said it was not the first time and he would make a formal complaint.