By Harry Haydon

The Sun
Juluy 1, 2009

A VICAR was under arrest last night as cops grilled him over 180 SHAM
marriages - staged so illegal immigrants can stay here.

Rev Alex Brown, 61, was held in a dawn swoop on his rectory that
shocked his seaside parishioners.

The dramatic raid followed an 18-month probe into an alleged scam
in which Eastern Europeans and other foreigners were able to claim
residency by tying the knot.

Immigration officials had suspended applications from anyone getting
married at the C of E vicar's St Peter and St Paul Church more than
a year ago.

Church ... weddings venue John Connor Press Associates Last night
one elderly member of his flock in St Leonards, East Sussex, said:
"I am stunned.

"I have known the vicar for 18 years and he is a wonderful priest. He
was so caring to me when I lost my husband and he goes out of his
way to look after alcoholics and drug addicts. If he has thrown away
his long, loyal service to the Church to do something so stupid I'll
be devastated."

The vicar has given sermons in the town - next to Hastings - for more
than 20 years. The raid on his rectory was one of four staged by more
than 35 police and officers from the UK Border Agency.

Advertisement A Ukrainian man aged 32 and a 27-year-old Latvian -
thought to be one of the brides - were also arrested along with an
Armenian man aged 36.

Rev Brown - due to retire next month - is being held on suspicion of
facilitating the illegal entry of people into Britain.

Det Inspector Andy Cummins confirmed the sham marriages said to have
been arranged at the church totalled "nearly 180".

Chichester Diocese said it had suspended the vicar.

The Bishop of Lewes was described as having heard of the arrest
"with great sadness".