LONDON (RNS) A Church of England vicar has been arrested in Britain’s second major police investigation in as many years into bogus marriages staged to help immigrants win residents’ visas.
The church immediately suspended the Rev. Canon Patrick Magumba amid claims he was involved in scores of sham weddings at three churches in northeast England.
Last year in a similar case, a vicar was sent to jail for conducting some 360 fake weddings to help foreigners evade immigration regulations.
The 58-year-old Magumba, who came to Britain from Uganda, is accused of failing to read out the banns that are designed as part of a safety net to make sure a marriage is legitimate.
The banns involve reading the names and addresses of those getting married during three separate Sunday services and are necessary in this country to acquire a marriage certificate.
With that document, the government’s Home Office said, immigrants who otherwise would have no legal right to stay in Britain could remain in the country as the “husband” or “wife” of a bogus spouse.
Magumba has been released on bail, and the Church of England said in a statement his “license to operate as a minister of religion” had been suspended while the police investigation continued.