The trial of a vicar accused of conducting a “matrimonial conveyor belt” of sham weddings has collapsed after the judge accused immigration officers of lying on oath.
The Rev Nathan Ntege, 55, was said to have married almost 500 bogus couples at a church in south-east London.
But the judge ended the trial, alleging “bad faith and serious misconduct on the part of the prosecution”.
The case against six people accused alongside Mr Ntege has also collapsed.
Officers at the heart of this prosecution have deliberately concealed important evidence and lied on oath”
Judge Nic Madge
The vicar, from Thornton Heath, was on trial at Inner London Crown Court on 14 counts of facilitating a breach of immigration law and one count of fraud.
The prosecution claimed immigration officials became suspicious because of the “inordinate number” of weddings taking place at the parish church, rising from six a year to six a day.
Channel 4 News has reported that when “immigration officers were questioned in the witness box, it emerged that evidence had been tampered with or concealed, possibly destroyed, video footage had gone missing, and an investigation log had been doctored”.
Judge Nic Madge said the misconduct started when two of the defendants were arrested in June 2011, and “has continued throughout the course of this trial”.
He said: “I am satisfied that this is a case in which there has been both bad faith and serious misconduct on the part of the prosecution.
“I am satisfied that officers at the heart of this prosecution have deliberately concealed important evidence and lied on oath.”