Vicars charged over sham marriages
Published 14/03/2011 | 19:12
Two clergymen have been charged following a sham marriages probe, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
The Rev Brian Shipsides, 54, and the Rev Elwon John, 44, are alleged to have conducted around 200 bogus unions in their inner-city parish.
Most of these were between EU and non-EU residents.
The two men were held last year after UK Border Agency officials and police swooped on their homes in Forest Gate, east London.
They were suspended from their Church of England duties shortly after their arrests.
CPS reviewing lawyer Andrew Hadik said: "Having considered a full file of evidence in this case, I have decided that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute Reverend Brian Shipsides and Reverend Elwon John for conspiring to facilitate entry and to obtain indefinite leave to remain in the UK in breach of immigration law.
"The charges relate to approximately 200 marriages, the majority between EU and non-EU residents, conducted by both clergymen at All Saints Church, Forest Gate, London, between December 2007 and the end of July 2010."
Shipsides, of the vicarage in Claremont Road, appears in the Guinness Book of World Records for officiating at the wedding of the world's tallest married couple in 2001.
He was the priest in charge at All Saints in Hampton Road and St Edmunds in Katherine Road. John, of Kennedy Road, Barking, was associate minister for both churches.
The pair will appear at Stratford Magistrates' Court, in east London, next Friday.