N.Ireland police sorry for raiding 'sham marriage'

22nd July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Police in Northern Ireland apologised to a couple Friday after officers stormed their wedding and mistakenly arrested them on suspicion of having a "sham marriage" for immigration purposes.

Neil McElwee, 24, and his pregnant bride Yanan Sun, 19, of ethnic Chinese origin, had just arrived at the Guildhall building in Londonderry on Tuesday when eight police came in and detained all 40 of their guests for questioning.

"In front of everyone, our family and our friends, they said the wedding was a sham. I couldnt believe it. I started shouting at them to stop," McElwee told the local newspaper, the Derry Journal.

Sun, who is four months pregnant, said it was not what she imagined for her wedding day. "It was awful, just awful. It should have been such a happy occasion," she told the newspaper.

After being released without charge, the couple decided to go ahead with their marriage on Wednesday.

"The police were full of apologies when they let us go, but apologies wont bring our wedding day back. Apologies wont fix things," McElwee said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said they had made five arrests in Londonderry city centre on July 19 in relation to an investigation by border agents into "a suspected sham marriage".

"Four people, including the bride and groom, were released without charge and one woman was detained by the UK Border Agency in relation to her immigration status," police said in a statement.

"Police have apologised to the couple and their families for any undue upset or distress caused."

© 2011 AFP

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