A number of gang members have been jailed following a UK spouse visa sham that took place at the Luton Register Office.
In November 2010, a group of UK immigration officials conducted a raid at the office during a wedding. Their investigations revealed that the would-be groom Bilal Bashir from Pakistan had outstayed his UK visa and was hoping that by marring EU national Bozena Horvatova, from Slovakia, he would be able to remain in the country legally by benefiting from a UK spouse visa.
The wedding itself had been arranged by Jozef Lacko, a 45-year-old Slovak national resident in Margate. For attempting to arrange the UK spouse visa sham he has now been jailed for two years and four months. His relative Victor Lack, 37, who was to act as a witness at the marriage, has been jailed for 18 months along with Jaroslav Husar, one of the fake wedding guests.
The bride and groom themselves had already been jailed for 12 months at an earlier hearing in February.
Ian Williams, from the UK Border Agency immigration crime team, commented: “Jozef Lacko had the most significant role of the three. It was him who approached Horvatova about participating in the bogus wedding, it was him who accompanied her to the Register Office to give notice of her intention to marry. Ultimately, it was him who set the wheels in motion.”
He added that the agency's main aim is not simply to stop the brides and grooms involved in UK spouse visa scams, but to “identify the organisers who profit from – and fuel the demand for – sham marriages, destroy their criminal business and put them behind bars”.