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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Maidstone grooms arrested at Archbishop's Palace as two 'sham' marriages halted within minutes by Home Office immigration officials

12 March 2014
by Anna Young

Two Maidstone weddings have been dramatically halted after the grooms were arrested by immigration officers before they could say I do.

The suspected sham marriages were stopped just before the ceremonies at the Archbishop's Palace, in Mill Street, on Monday.

A 32-year-old Indian man was arrested at 10am on suspicion of entering the country illegally. His would-be bride - a 24-year-old Hungarian woman - was questioned by officers, but later released without charge.

Immigration officers swooped on the Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone

Immigration officers swooped on the Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone

Investigators then stopped the next planned wedding from going ahead and arrested a 26-year-old Pakistani man on suspicion of attempting to remain in the country illegally.

His intended bride, a 30-year-old Slovakian woman, was arrested on suspicion of facilitating a false marriage.

"I would urge anyone thinking of entering a sham marriage to think again as there is every chance that you will be detained and removed from the country..." - Richard Lederle, Home Office

But despite the two weddings being stopped one after each other, a Home Office spokesman said they were not linking them.

Both grooms have now been placed in immigration detention and will be deported.

Officers who attended the Kent County Council-run register office also discovered thousands of pounds in the boot of a car, which has been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Richard Lederle, head of the Kent and Sussex Home Office Immigration Enforcement team, said: "We work closely with registrars across the area to prevent people from abusing the marriage system in a bid to get round our immigration laws.

"Where we receive information that a wedding may be suspicious we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene and arrest those involved."

Suspected sham marriages were stopped just before the ceremonies at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone

Suspected sham marriages were stopped just before the ceremonies at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone

Two suspected marriage fixers, a 29-year-old Pakistani man and a 21-year-old Slovakian woman, were also arrested.

Mr Lederle added: "I would urge anyone thinking of entering a sham marriage to think again as there is every chance that you will be detained and removed from the country."

A fraudulent marriage or civil marriage usually occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area as a way of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits in the UK.

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