Few deported after sham marriage scam

Alex Brown conducting a sham marriage at St Peter's Church, St Leonards
Alex Brown conducting a sham marriage at St Peter's Church, St Leonards

ONLY nine people have been deported following the hundreds of sham marriages that took place in a St Leonards church between 2005 and 2009, UK Border Agency figures show.

The largest case of its kind ever brought to court, saw three men sentenced to prison last year.

A total of 370 marriages that took place at St Peter’s Church, St Leonards, officiated by Rev Alex Brown, were thought to be linked to the scam.

A spokesman for the UKBA said: “We have reviewed all 370 cases identified by our sham marriage investigation that were linked to the weddings officiated over by Alex Brown. Not everyone involved in these weddings was found to be an immigration offender.

“Around 170 have had visa applications rejected, which means they will not be allowed to stay or work in the UK legally as a direct result of these marriages.

“For these cases, if they have no other legitimate right to remain in the UK they must leave or we will take action to remove them.

“Those that have yet to be resolved, we will keep under review, and we will take action if and when this becomes necessary.”

Vladymyr Buchak, an illegal immigrant, who had been living in the UK under a false identity, was one of the men jailed for the scam.

As reported in the Observer in September, after serving time in prison, Buchak was released on bail from the immigration detention centre, on July 14.

The hearing to decide his case has not yet taken place.

Hastings MP Amber Rudd said: “It is very disappointing that so little has been done, and I will be writing to the Home Secretary and the Border Agency to urge them to take action.”