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Home Maidstone News Article
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.
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."
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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