Posted on July 26, 2010

Blushing Bride and Groom Thrown Into Cells After Officers Bust ‘Sham Wedding’ Moments Before They Tie the Knot

Jaya Narain, Daily Mail (London), July 24, 2010

It wasn’t exactly the dream wedding.

And two days in a cell still dressed in your turquoise wedding dress would probably sap the radiance from any bride.

Andrea Kalejova emerged from custody to face charges of arranging a sham marriage–after she and her husband-to-be were arrested at their ceremony.

The 22-year-old Czech and Abdul Majid, a 32-year-old from Pakistan, were escorted from a register office by immigration officials minutes before their nuptials began.

And instead of a luxurious bridal suite the pair were questioned and ushered into cells where they spent the following days waiting for their court date.

A judge this month heard the pair had been arrested in Manchester for conspiring to obtain a right to stay in Britain for Majid.

But Kalejova’s lawyer said the couple had genuinely wanted to marry and they would ‘strenuously’ deny the charges. Their arrest came before immigration minister Damian Green announced a crackdown on sham marriages this week.

He has promised an overhaul of the UK Border Agency and said the government was determined to send out a signal that Britain was no longer a soft touch for those people who arrived illegally.

The number of sham weddings in the UK soared to 529 last year, a 54 per cent rise on 2008 and officials believe the tightening of immigration controls, the economic climate and efforts to clamp down on illegal workers are to blame.

An increasing number of EU citizens are marrying non-EU foreigners to help them settle in the country and enjoy the same rights as British nationals. Last month a 19-year-old Polish bride-to-be and Indian ‘groom’ Amrit Singh Dhanju, 30, were arrested on suspicion of perjury.

Bystanders watched in astonishment as the couple were led away from Oxfordshire Register Office in handcuffs to unmarked cars.

Kalejova was granted bail at Manchester Magistrates’ Court while Majid was remanded in custody until they appear before the city’s Crown Court in September.