06 August 2010
Vicars arrested for allegedly running bogus marriage racket
Two Church of England vicars have been suspended after they were arrested by UK Border Agency officers for allegedly running a bogus marriage racket in East London.
Reverend Brian Shipsides and his colleague Reverend Elwon John are accused of conspiracy to break UK immigration law by attempting to carry out the sham marriage of a Nigerian man to a Dutch woman in East London last Saturday morning.
Border Agency officers arrested the 27-year-old Nigerian and the 23-year-old Dutch woman at the All Saints church in Forest Gate before they wed.
After questioning the couple, Border Agency officers arrested Mr Shipsides, 54, and Mr John, 43, at their home addresses in Forest Gate and Barking on Tuesday.
The Nigerian man was charged with perjury, trying to falsely gain leave to remain and identify card offences. He will appear in court in October.
The Dutch woman has admitted facilitation of a crime, and received a two-month suspended sentence.
The Mr Shipsides has been bailed to return to a police station in East London on 27 October, while Mr John has been bailed until 20 October.
UK Border Agency officials are now sifting through documents and marriage registers at the vicars’ two churches, All Saints and St Edmunds in Forest Gate, to find any evidence of the pair helping other migrants get married solely to remain in Britain and obtain a UK Visa.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their UK Visa applications to the British Embassy.