Another Church of England vicar has been jailed for carrying out sham marriages to allow immigrants to gain residency rights to remain in the UK, the BBC reports.
The Reverend Canon Dr John Magumba, 58, performed 31 bogus wedding ceremonies at two churches in Rochdale in the North west of England.
Magumba, originally from Uganda, pleaded guilty in December to conspiring to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law.
The shamed priest was jailed last week for two-and-a-half-years at Bolton Crown Court.
The father-of-six had also pleaded guilty to theft of more than £8,000 from his church councils by not declaring income from weddings and funerals.
The court heard that Magumba, originally from Uganda, “asked no questions” when marrying a stream of Nigerian men and eastern European women who went to his Rochdale parish.
He took on so many weddings involving foreign nationals that his diocese made him head of a party on how to spot sham marriages.
Fran Gough, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “He conducted these wedding ceremonies knowing full well that they were [shams], purely to assist non-EU citizens in their bid to gain UK residency.
“His dishonesty in effectively plundering church funds is also difficult to believe in someone whom others looked to for moral guidance.”
Magumba arrived in the UK in 2004 on an ecclesiastical visa, bringing his family with him from Uganda.
Investigators said that money was “always an issue” for him, that he had requested crisis loans from the Church and even asked parishioners for money to “clothe his children”.
He was arrested last March as part of an investigation by the UK Border Agency.
Sham marriages usually involve a non-European marrying an EU citizen to secure long-term residency, the right to work and the right to claim benefits in the UK. Source: BBC.
The conviction follows a series of successful crackdowns on marriage fraud by the UK Border Agency.
The agency has set up a special taskforce with the Church of England to detect sham marriages between European Union nationals and non-EU migrants trying to gain indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and UK naturalisation in the UK.
Each Diocese now has a ‘sham marriage officer’ who can pass on Vicars’ concerns over weddings to the immigration authorities.
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