Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 17:42 UK

Vicar denies sham marriage charge

The Rev Alex Brown leaving Lewes Crown Court at an earlier hearing
The Reverend Alex Brown denied the charge at Lewes Crown Court

A 60-year-old vicar has denied claims that he conducted sham marriages involving illegal immigrants in Sussex.

The Rev Alex Brown pleaded not guilty at Lewes Crown Court to conspiring to facilitate unlawful entry.

It is claimed he carried out more than 180 marriages, mainly between non-EU and EU nationals, at St Peter's Church in St Leonards over the past two years.

Another defendant, Ukrainian Vladymyr Buchak, 32, of Anglesea Terrace, St Leonards, denied the same charge.

Mr Buchak, who was remanded in custody, also denied two other charges of perverting the course of justice and using a false document.

Mr Brown, who has been suspended from duties pending the outcome of an investigation, was granted continuing conditional bail.

A trial date for both defendants was set for 7 December.

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