ABUSIVE AND CLERICAL COMMENT MAKERS MAKE REFERENCE ON A DAILY BASIS TO THE COURT CASE I WAS INVOLVED IN 6 YEARS AGO IN 2013.
Yesterday people like MMM referred to an article in a recent edition of The Irish News – a biased RC newspaper that was set up by the Irish Catholic Bishops in the late 18th century to oppose and bring down Charles Stewart Parnell a Church of Ireland MP who was marrying a divorcee.
THE 2013 COURT CASE
Over the past 33 years couples seeking marriage have been referred to me by a variety of people – family, friends, solicitors, doctors, wedding co-ordinators, hotel managers etc etc.
Between 2007 and 2009 a Belfast solicitor named Ho Ling Mo reffered 15 couples to me in that 3 year period.
Up until 2007, priests like me were responsible for the marriage preliminaries – interviewing the couples, checking their documents and issuing the marriage licence.
That changed in 2007 in the Republic – when new legislation was introduced taking away all preliminaries from the clergyman and reserving them absolutely to the state registrars. From that at point onwards ALL couples had to be immediately referred to the civil registry office – who then became absolutely responsible for interviewing the couples, checking their documentation and issuing the marriage licence. A priest had no power or permission to marry any couple until the state registrar gave the green light by issuing the MRF Marriage Registration Form in the South and the MS – Marriage Schedule in the North. In fact the North was much later in changing their procedures.
So, the 14 couples I married were all referred to the civil registry office at Dundalk. They were interviewed by the civil registrar, all their documents were checked and a MRF issued.
At that stage, and at that stage only, could I as a priest marry that couple – and I celebrated all 14 marriages with the direct permission of the Irish State.
I got my normal fee of £300 and my travelling expenses to Dundalk and other parts of the South were covered by the couple.
What I did not know at the time was that the solicitor, Ho Ling Mo was charging each couple up to £18,000 for arranging their marriage and handling their visa applications.
When I discovered that I challenged Mo and refused to take any more referrals from her.
Eventually the police became interested in Mo’s activities. They asked me to go and meet them in Belfast and I did and told them all I knew.
Later, at my invitation, they came to home and spent all an afternoon studying my registers and all my extensive paperwork.
The asked if I would be willing to be a witness for the prosecution, and I agreed.
Later they said they wanted to interview me under caution and on 3 occasions I went to talk to them for many hours and never even brought a solicitor with me.
Later again they told me they were going to charge me with “assisting illegal immigration”. At that stage I brought a solicitor to my 4th interview.
After this again they told me that they could not charge me with assisting illegal immigration and changed the charge to “conspiracy to defraud the British Home Secretary!
The crime of “conspiracy” is a very controversial crime because it requires an inferior level of proof and a longer sentence.
An American judge has called the crime of conspiracy the preferred charge of lazy policemen and prosecutors”.
So I was charged and put on trial in Belfast Crown Court. The trial ran for 3 weeks before a jury and ended up with the jury not being able to come to a verdict.
Later the prosecutors decided to have a second trial.
I am a mentally very strong man. And when a strong man is under extreme stress the stress goes for the body. In 1987 I was diagnosed with the inflamatory bowel illness called Crohns Disease – an illness which ban be fatal.
During the stress of 3 week trial, my Crohns flared up very seriously and I was in very bad pain, was bleeding and having “accidents” on the way to and from court.
The prospects of another 3 weeks or longer would leave me open to becoming seriously ill. On my lawyer’s advice I decided to take a deal from the prosecution and plead guilty. For me it was better to live with a criminal record or die without one.
The judge, Mr Mark Horner, who was hearing his first criminal case in court decided to give me a suspended sentence but also decided to punish me further by telling the gathered press that I was HIV+.
What he did was against the European Human Rights Convention. When I discovered this I spoke to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission but unfortunately the 3 months I had to complain had run out. But the human rights people had correspondence with the Lord Chief Justice and judges have been informed that they cannot breach human rights in their judgements.
Since the case I have learned from a very reliable source that a very senior RC cleric met a very senior policeman in a Belfast Indian restaurant quite a while before any proceedings. I have also learned that there was communications between the church and other senior members of the legal profession.
After my court case the police and home office awarded two of the grooms wth British passports for being prepared to give evidence against me.
Why did they reward two men they were accusing of sham marriages with passports?
Finally, why would a man who had never broken the law in 61 years decide to break it at 61. And the same man has not broken the law in the 6 years since 2013.
I continue to be a wedding celebrant in both jurisdictions.
At the time the government, the police and the border force were under big pressure to address sham marriages. It suited them very much and got them more publicity if they could attach someone with a public profile to the case.
To my knowledge the 14 marriages I celebrated have never been declared null and void.
Miss Mo got a short sentence and is now living on her £5,000,000 back in Hong Kong.
My enemies will say I did it for money. I did not need those 4 weddings a year. At the time I had so many weddings I was outsourcing some weddings to others. The judge also made me pay £6,000 to the state which I did.
I will not be addressing this topic again on the blog but will place this statement on my personal website http://www.bishoppatbuckley.org