By Mark White, Home Affairs Correspondent
Up to one in five marriages conducted in civil ceremonies in parts of the country may be bogus, one of Britain’s most senior registrars has warned.
In an interview with Sky News, Mark Rimmer, the chairman of the Local Registration Services Association, said 20% of weddings in urban areas were suspicious – the worst it has ever been.
Home Office figures show the number of reported cases has tripled in the last three years to 1,800.
But Mr Rimmer said the number of sham marriages between people trying to abuse the immigration system reported to the authorities was “the tip of the iceberg” and that official figures are a “drop in the ocean” compared with the full scale of the problem.
He said the issue is now worse than in 2004 when the first legislation to combat the phenomenon was introduced and that registrars are having to conduct ceremonies they suspect to be bogus “through gritted teeth”.
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