Illegal immigrants used a 'loophole' to bypass a government crackdown on sham marriages and pay cash to wed European women with the right to live in Britain, a court heard today. They fooled Anglican Church officials into believing they were genuine couples in love and agreeing to allow the 'bogus' marriages to take place.
But a registrar suspicious about the number of Nigerian men marrying women from Slovakia and the Czech Republic tipped off police who uncovered a major conspiracy.
After making covert recordings they made a series of arrests on the day of a double wedding in July, taking a groom into custody at a motorway service station on the way to the ceremony and arresting two 'brides' dressed in wedding gowns outside a church.
Today Judge Peter Collier, QC, told the seven defendants who admitted offences at Leeds Crown Court they had 'carried out an assault on controls of immigration in this country.'
The scam involved African immigrants paying up to £15,000 each to 'fixers' to arrange for them to marry a woman from Europe so they could stay in the country legally.