DCSIMG

‘Sham’ wedding: Man held

Festival House and (below) Coun Mark Smith

Festival House and (below) Coun Mark Smith

A wedding was raided by immigration officers moments before a man from Algeria was due to take part in a suspected “sham” marriage.

Immigration officers attended Blackpool Register Office, Festival House, on Blackpool Promenade, shortly before 10am on Monday.

The Home Office officials said they were after acting on information passed to them.

Before the ceremony was due to begin officers intervened and the 45-year-old man, who had been living on the Promenade in Blackpool, was arrested after checks revealed he was in the country illegally.

He had been due to marry a 51-year-old Blackpool woman, who was interviewed by officers and later released.

The man has been detained pending his removal from the UK.

Assistant director Karen McDonough, from the Home Office’s North West Immigration Enforcement Team, said: “We are working closely with registrars to clamp down on sham weddings and civil partnerships.

“This operation is another example of the success that we are having.

“Where there are suspicions that a relationship may not be genuine we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene to stop it happening.”

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

Coun Mark Smith, Talbot ward councillor for Blackpool Council, said: “If someone is illegally in the country, the right thing to do is send them back from where they came from.

“If he was going to marry this woman to try and keep his residency in the UK, it’s appalling.

“The authorities have done the right thing in chasing him and finding out what he was doing in the UK.”

Anyone with information about immigration crime can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

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