Citation –  EWCA Crim 1665 (unreported / not on BAILII)
Date – 23rd July 2015
Keywords – Conviction, Sham Marriage, Conspiracy
Overview – Appeal against conviction for engaging in a sham marriage allowed where there was not sufficient evidence to show one of the participants of the marriage was part of the wider conspiracy.
Summary – M was a non-EU national who was twice refused a student visa, before being granted one in 2010 (to expire in 2014). In 2011 he married a non-British EU national and applied on the basis of the marriage for an EAA Permit.
There were reasonable grounds for suspecting that the marriage was a genuine one (it was conducted within 2 months of meeting, there were discrepancies over addresses, etc), and they separated in a year
M was indicted with his former spouse as well as 3 other men and a woman who had entered into sham marriages(the maths don’t quite add up, but is not relevant), and 2 people who were alleged to have organised the sham marriages.
M claimed it was simply a genuine marriage that went sour, but was convicted. The appeal was on the basis that although there was sufficient evidence that it was a sham marriage, there was nothing to link M with any wider conspiracy.
Although there were various arguments canvassed, but the appeal was allowed on that basis – even if there was sufficient evidence that M was knowingly entering a sham marriage for the purposes of evading immigration control, there was simply nothing to suggest that this was arranged by the two ‘organisers’.
A useful reminder of the need for a bit of formality and consideration by the Prosecution in drafting an indictment. Here, there was a fundamental flaw in the case that really should have been identified at an earlier stage.
Judges – McCombe LJ, Baker & Lewis JJ