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Scots doctor married Pakistani car dealer by phone

The bride applied to the Court of Session for an annulment after taking part in a Pakistani wedding ceremony by phone from Edinburgh.

Bad call: The woman became suspicious of her new husband's motives.

A doctor who got married by telephone to a car dealer in Pakistan has failed in her bid to have the wedding declared a sham.

The woman asked the Court of Session in Edinburgh to grant a decree of nullity because she suspected her husband of staging the marriage to dodge immigration rules.

But Lord Stewart, in a written decision, said the ceremony appeared to be valid under Pakistani law and he therefore had no power to quash the marriage.

The woman had argued that the court had the authority to act because she made the nuptial phone call from Scotland.

She told the court she met her husband on the internet in about 2004, when he told her he was a 27-year-old manager of a car showroom in Dubai.

However, he gave a postal address in Karachi. The woman's mother then travelled to Pakistan to meet him and returned saying he was not suitable as a husband.

Nevertheless, her daughter stayed in touch with her fiance and agreed to marry him on January 12, 2005.

She told the court she thought the groom was in Pakistan and also spoke to someone she thought was a priest. She also signed a marriage certificate which she took to the Pakistani consulate in Glasgow.

In a statement sent to the court, she explained: "I was going through a lot of pressure at the time and I was feeling bad about myself. I had just failed first year of university and I was getting a lot of hassle from my parents about it.

"It was a very difficult time for me. I was vulnerable at the time. I knew that I should not have done it but, at the time I was sincere."

Maria Clarke, counsel for the woman, admitted that an expert on Muslim and Pakistani law said that telephone marriages were valid and increasingly common in Pakistan and, according to the laws of that country, the wedding seemed to be legal.

But she argued that there was a "key question" about where the wedding had taken place because the bride was in Scotland during proceedings, and the telephone wedding did not comply with the requirements of Scots law.

Lord Stewart said in his judgment that previous court decisions had established the principle that if a marriage was legal in one country it could not be overturned in another.

He quoted the case of an Irishman and a Ghananian woman in England who sent a bottle of gin and some cash to Ghana where a ceremony was held according to tribal custom, even though neither bride nor groom attended.

"The Court of Appeal recognised the union on the basis of expert opinion to the effect that a marriage in absentia was formally valid according to the customary law in question," he said.

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