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article imageVicar found guilty of carrying out fake marriage scam in UK

By Lynn Curwin     Jul 30, 2010 in World
A vicar has been found guilty of carrying out hundreds of fake marriages to enable people from Africa to stay in the UK. It is believed that 360 of the 383 weddings conducted by Reverend Alex Brown from July 2005 to July 2009 were fake.
The weddings took place at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonards, Sussex.
The 61-year-old reverend and two co-defendants were found guilty of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.
BBC News reported that one co-defendant, Vladymyr Buchak, paid eastern Europeans as much as £3,000 to marry Africans, mainly from Nigeria. The other, Michael Adelasoye, used his knowledge of the law to help with applications to the Home Office. Adelasoye is an immigration lawyer who found people anxious to stay in the UK. He is also pastor of Ark of Hope church. Buchak was able to find brides and grooms from the Eastern European community who would get married in exchange for cash.
Jury members were told that Brown often did not follow Church of England procedures for reading out marriage banns. They were shown a marriage register listing hundreds of people who had recently married living in one small area. One road was listed as the address for 90 couples, and 52 had another road as their address. There were even cases where the same house was listed as the address for several couples.
The Daily Mail reported that Brown married 13 couples between 2001 and 2005, but during the next four years he conducted 383 weddings. Most of the sham ceremonies took place in the evenings.
After Home Office officials noticed the high number of immigration applications listing Brown’s church as their place of marriage, the church was put under surveillance.
According to BBC News, Brown claimed he only married couples he was sure were together for the right reasons or if the bride-to-be was pregnant.
Brown’s motivation for performing the marriages is unknown. He does not appear to have been paid a large amount of money.
Sentencing has been adjourned until 6 September.
Judge Richard Hayward remanded Buchak in custody and gave Brown and Adelasoye continued bail.
Services at the Church of St Peter and St Paul have been suspended.
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