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London court hears of ‘farcical’ weddings

by
12 September 2014

CROYDON ADVISTISER

Charged: the Revd Nathan Ntege

Charged: the Revd Nathan Ntege

A PRIEST in south London presided over a "conveyor belt" of sham marriages, a court heard on Tuesday.

Last year, the Vicar of St Jude with St Aidan, Thornton Heath, the Revd Nigel Ntege, was charged with 14 immigration offences relating to 492 marriages, conducted over a 15-month period (News, 25 January, 2013). He has also been charged with fraud in relation to £69,498 of marriage fees that he allegedly failed to pay to the diocese of Southwark, which has since suspended him. He has denied all charges.

The prosecutor, Edward Lucas, told the Inner London Crown Court that, after Mr Ntege's appointment, the number of weddings at St Aidan's rose from six a year in 2005 to six a day.

"Witnesses described brides queuing round the block," The Daily Telegraph reported Mr Lucas as saying. "They changed into their wedding dresses in the garden, or in the toilets, and shared dresses with other women. Some women married, took off their wedding dresses in a back room, and left. . . There were no guests.

"The weddings were farcical. Ntege and his team ran a marriage conveyor belt."

Six other people have been charged in connection with the case, including the church verger, Brian Miller, aged 81, who faces seven charges of facilitating unlawful immigration; and the church secretary, Maudlyn Riviere, who faces 15 of the same charges.

The trial continues.

 

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