TWO ‘bridegrooms’ were arrested just minutes before their ‘weddings’ after raids at Blackburn’s register office by immigration officers.

Both men had been at the King George’s Hall venue waiting to marry their Eastern European brides-to-be.

But acting on information the relationships may not be genuine, the pair were instead detained and are now set to be deported.

The Home Office said its immigration enforcement officers arrived at 10.30am yesterday just as a 27-year-old Pakistani man was about to say ‘I do’ to a 25-year-od Czech woman.

He was arrested and checks revealed he was in the country illegally having over-stayed his student visa.

The woman he had been due to marry was interviewed by officers and later released.

Two days earlier another suspected sham marriage was prevented in a second raid.

Officers arrested a 26-year-old-man who was also in the country illegally having overstayed his student visa. He was due to marry a 18-year-old Latvian woman.

Both grooms will now be sent back to Pakistan.

After the arrests Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “We are determined to stop migrants abusing the marriage system to cheat immigration rules.

“Measures outlined in the Immigration Bill include extending the marriage and civil penalty notice period to 28 days in England and Wales, and 70 days in some circumstances.

“This will give our officers and registrars more time to investigate, prosecute and remove those attempting to stage sham marriages.”

A sham marriage or civil partnership typically occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area as a means of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits in the UK.

A crackdown on the problem has been launched after a number of high profile cases, including large scale sham marriage rings operating in Accrington and Blackburn, were revealed by police.

Anyone with information about immigration crime can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or visit