A 39-year-old man, who had been living in Preston, has been arrested moments before a suspected sham marriage ceremony went ahead.
The team of UK immigration officials arrested the individual at the Preston register office last week (August 30th) just before the ceremony began. They acted on information indicating that that the relationship between the man, who is from Gambia, and his 57-year-old British 'bride' might not be be genuine.
Further checks revealed that the Gambian man was in the country illegally. He has been detained since his arrest ahead of his removal from the country.
Colin Berrington, assistant director, with the North West Immigration Enforcement team, a division of the Home Office, said that the arrest was part of efforts to work “closely with registrars to clamp down on sham weddings and civil partnerships”.
The arrest did indeed take place with the full co-operation of the superintendent registrar.
Mr Berrington added: “Where there are suspicions that a relationship may not be genuine we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene to stop it happening.”
UK spouse visas are available for couples looking to relocate together to the country, but checks are in place to ensure that the visas are only given out to genuine couples who have the financial means of supporting themselves in Britain.
These regulations have been tightened by the current government, which is keen to reduce the number of people abusing the UK immigration system.