A vicar of The Victorian Parish Church in St Leonards was sentenced to four years in jail, after being found guilty of conspiring to facilitate breaches of British immigration laws. Vicar Alex Brown, 61, was convicted on Monday after a seven-month long court battle.
According to reports, Brown married about eight couples per day from 2005 through 2009. The marriages were found to be fraudulent with many, if not all, of the brides being paid to take part in the ceremony. The brides, who were mostly Eastern European, were paid 3,000 pounds to marry men mostly of Nigerian ancestry. Evidence presented in the Lewes Crown Courtroom revealed that 360 of the 383 wedding ceremonies performed by the vicar involved Eastern Europeans marrying Africans.
Brown was found guilty of presiding over at least 360 counterfeit ceremonies during the four-year period. Brown however, insisted during the trial he only married couples who were marrying for earnest and honorable reasons.
Along with Brown, two other men were convicted – Michael Adelasoye, 50, the “solicitor” and ”recruiter” Vladymyr Buchak. Prosecutors did agree with Brown’s defense that Buchak was the chief organizer, but the prosecution contends that Brown had to be aware that many of the ceremonies over which he presided were bogus.
The performed marriages were an attempt to sidestep UK immigration laws. Migrating to Britain is an attainable feat but requires paperwork, money and reasons for entering the country. If the men were married in the UK, they can gain substantial amounts of benefits from Britain’s social system.