Home Office claims marriage is a sham

PUBLISHED: 13:40 04 May 2006 | UPDATED: 13:27 04 May 2010

HAPPY TIMES: The couple’s wedding in America in March.
Photo: HELEN DRAKE

HAPPY TIMES: The couple's wedding in America in March. Photo: HELEN DRAKE

A WICKEN woman and her American husband have been separated after only a month of married life together because the Home Office has said their marriage is a sham. Margaret Pip Gable married her husband Tom in Waverley, New York State, on March 11, but

HOLD THE LINE: Margaret “Pip” Gable can only speak to her new husband by phone.

A WICKEN woman and her American husband have been separated after only a month of married life together because the Home Office has said their marriage is a sham.

Margaret "Pip" Gable married her husband Tom in Waverley, New York State, on March 11, but the couple were devastated when they discovered that their plans to go back to Mrs Gable's Church Road home had been scotched by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, which said Mr Gable would not be allowed into Britain.

"They believe it is a marriage of convenience," Mrs Gable, 49, said.

"It's outrageous."

Mr Gable, also 49, is originally from Athens, Pennsylvania, but met his future wife when he was stationed at Lakenheath in 1979 with the US Army.

He stayed in Britain until 1983, and was awarded nine medals over the course of his army career, but had to return home for personal reasons.

"He's been a very long-term friend and we've always kept in touch," Mrs Gable said.

Mr Gable returned earlier this year and proposed to Margaret, and the couple began planning for their wedding.

Following the wedding, Mr Gable went through the rigorous checking procedures to live in Britain, but was informed by post that his access had been denied.

Mrs Gable said the authorities suspect that the couple have married to allow Mr Gable to return to Britain because he has made no secret of his desire to come back to a country that he developed many links with during his army service.

She said the reason given for the refusal is that love-letters - given to the authorities to prove that the couple have been in steady contact - contain anti-American sentiment.

In one of the letters, Mr Gable said of America: 'The tea sucks, the president sucks - why was I born a yank?'."

Immigration authorities suspect that this dislike of his home country is evidence that Mr Gable would be willing to marry an English woman to secure residence in Britain.

Mrs Gable, however, puts this down to her husband's sense of humour.

"How do you prove you love someone?" She said.

"We have both said we're willing to take a lie detector test."

Mr Gable is now in Athens, Pennsylvania, waiting to see if an appeal lodged by the couple is successful. She is currently in the process of gathering statements from friends and neighbours as evidence of the couple's continued relationship to send to the British Embassy in New York.

The appeal includes a letter from Mrs Gable's five-year-old grandson, Ethan.

It reads: "Please let grandpa Tom come home. He makes us popcorn. He is going to play chess with me. We love him."

A spokesperson from the Home office said they were unable to comment on individual cases, adding that there has been a recent change in legislation to bring down the number of "bogus" marriages more difficult.

"It is not designed to inconvenience people," she said.

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