South Scotland

Gretna sham wedding operation sees eight men arrested

Gretna Registration Office
Image caption The wedding ceremonies were due to take place at Gretna registration office

Eight men from Pakistan and India have been arrested by immigration officers in Gretna as part of an operation targeting sham weddings.

They were apprehended moments before six ceremonies to be held on Thursday.

The Home Office said the men, aged between 27 and 40, were all in the UK illegally.

They had all travelled to Gretna from areas in England including Bradford, Manchester, Southall, Blackburn and Wolverhampton.

They included five would-be grooms and three guests who were due to attend the ceremonies at Gretna registration office.

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 that anyone in the UK illegally should "take heed" of the latest operation.

"Expect to be caught by us and removed from the UK," she said.

"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.

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