30 July 2010
Vicar found guilty of organising sham marriages for UK Visas
A vicar and two other men have been found guilty of conspiring to breach of UK immigration law through assisting with hundreds of sham marriages in East Sussex.
Reverend Alex Brown, Ukrainian national Vladymyr Buchak and UK immigration lawyer Michael Adelasoye were all convicted of conspiring to facilitate breaches of immigration law following an eight week trial at Lewes Crown Court.
Brown had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of carrying out marriage ceremonies without banns of matrimony being published.
The three men’s convictions come after the largest ever investigation by the UK Border Agency South East Region immigration crime team.
The vast majority of the 360 weddings at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, between July 2005 and June 2009, were solely to assist applications for a UK Visa, the Border Agency said.
Brown officiated at all the ceremonies.
Many of the weddings involved Eastern European nationals, who Buchak supplied through his contacts at factories and food processing plants, and West Africans, for whom Adelasoye would represent and process immigration applications.
Buchak and Adelasoye referred their clients to Brown’s church, where the weddings would take place.
Suspicions were raised after UK Border Agency caseworkers noticed a high number of immigration applications involving people who had got married at the same church.
Approximately 150 applications from those married at St Peter’s for some form of leave to remain in the UK remain outstanding, and have been frozen, pending the outcome of this prosecution.
The beneficiaries who had already gained some form of leave to remain in the UK face having their cases reviewed in the light of this prosecution.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their UK Visa applications to the British Embassy.