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Eight arrested in sham marriage operation in Gretna

Eight men from Pakistan and India were arrested last week during an operation by Home Office Immigration Officers

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Eight men from Pakistan and India were arrested last week during an operation by Home Office Immigration Officers, moments before six sham wedding ceremonies were due to take place at a registration office in the Scottish town of Gretna.

Acting on information that the weddings may not be genuine, immigration officers attended the registration office.

They arrested eight men, aged between 27 and 40, all of whom were in the UK illegally. They included five would be grooms and three guests who were due to attend the ceremonies. They had all travelled to Gretna from areas in England, including Bradford, Manchester, Southall, Blackburn and Wolverhampton.

Six of the men have been detained pending their removal from the UK, while the remaining two must report regularly to the Home Office while their pending immigration cases are concluded.

The intended brides from the Czech Republic, Romania and the UK were interviewed and released.

Anna Beattie, from the Home Office Immigration Enforcement team, said:

Anyone in the UK illegally and seeking to evade our immigration laws should take heed of this latest operation. Expect to be caught by us and removed from the UK.

The Home Office is working with colleagues at registration offices throughout Scotland and receives intelligence from a wide variety of sources. We will not hesitate to act against those who mistakenly believe that they can abuse the immigration system.

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.

Anyone with information about immigration crime can contact Crimestoppers on +44(0)800 555 111 anonymously or visit Crimestoppers website

Published 25 July 2013