AN alleged immigration offender from Nigeria was arrested just moments before he was due to take part in a suspected 'sham marriage' at Kendal Register Office today.
Acting on a tip-off that the relationship may not be genuine, UK Border Agency officers attended County Offices at around 11am.
Just before the ceremony began, officers intervened and arrested a 34-year-old man on suspicion of overstaying his visa and remaining in the UK illegally.
He had been due to marry a 24-year-old British woman, who was questioned by officers and released.
A UK Border Agency spokeswoman said the man was 'detained pending his removal from the UK'.
She told the Gazette that officers had been aware of the man for ‘several weeks’ and, had he not showed up at the ceremony, they would have ‘known where he was’.
The spokesman could not divulge where the 24-year-old woman lived or the nature of the tip-off for operational reasons.
She added that the operation was carried out with the full co-operation of the Superintendent Registrar.
Alison Wray, head of enforcement for the UK Border Agency in the North West, said: “We’re working closely with registrars to clamp down on sham weddings and civil partnerships.
“Where there are suspicions that a relationship may not be genuine we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene to stop it happening.”
A sham marriage or civil partnership typically occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area or the UK 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 offenders is asked to contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111, or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org