Friday, February 15, 2008

Weller, Weller, Huh?

I hesitate to write this entry. I have no intention of maintaining a campaign-y type of blog... but every now and then you hear a story that just needs wider coverage. I'm sure there are many. Here's one.

About four years ago a British man called Andy Weller married a Thai woman called Aranya. They had a daughter called Jemima. Andy was teaching in Bangkok but was intending to return to the UK to complete his degree studies and take up a new teaching post at a school in Reigate.

The couple wanted their daughter - a British citizen - to be raised and schooled in the UK where her grandparents and uncles could play a more significant role in her upbringing. Plans were in place to move here in September 2008.

But unfortunately in November last year Andy had a heart attack and passed away. He was only 31 years old. His daughter, Jemima is 2. It is almost impossible to calculate the effect such an untimely death has on a family. Andy's wife and child are obviously devastated as are his parents and brothers.

Andy's parents flew to Bangkok to help deal with the formalities following their son's death. They returned with Aranya, Jemima and their son's ashes. Aranya is currently in the UK on a 6-month visitors visa. It expires on June 1st 2008.

On January 9th they submitted a visa application requesting that Aranya be allowed to stay for a further 2 years. It seems entirely understandable to me that, having lost a son in such tragic circumstances they do not want to have their grand-daughter and daughter-in-law taken from them also. Jemima is a British citizen and I would have thought she had a natural right to remain here. Of course nobody would suggest that a mother and child should be separated under these circumstances and so if Aranya is denied the right to stay then effectively so is Jemima.

And that's what seems to have happened. The Home Office have declined the visa request on the basis that there is a lack of "compelling or compassionate grounds." This I don't understand. Indeed, further tearing this family apart when they are still reeling with the grief of such a significant loss seems to be so lacking in compassion as to be mind-boggling.

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has the right - if she chooses - to overturn any immigration decision. Nobody involved has breached any immigration rules. It is simply a case of a close and loving family, already torn apart by grief, seeking to stay together and help each other through a horrible situation.

If you're minded to do so you might want to write to the Home Secretary and/or the family's local MP Crispin Blunt.

Here are their contact details:
The Rt Hon. Jacqui Smith, M.P.
The Home Secretary,
2 Marsham Street

Crispin Blunt MP
House of Commons

If you write to Crispin Blunt, you will need to use the heading 'Aranya Weller.' If you write to he Home Secretary you should use a fuller heading: 'Mrs Aranya Weller (nee Chantajit)' and you'll also need to include the Home Office reference LR2932016148 and the case ID 009327601

You can also e-mail them:
Jacqui Smith = indpublicenquiries [at]

Crispin Blunt = crispinbluntmp [at]

Here's a copy of an e-mail I sent:

Subject: Mrs Aranya Weller (nee Chantajit)

Re: Home Office ref: LR2932016148, case ID 009327601

Dear Minister,

I am writing in support of the residency application
by Mrs Aranya Weller (née Chantajit).

I must express my surprise on hearing that Mrs Weller's
application had been denied on the basis of a lack of
"compelling or compassionate grounds." As you will
be aware Mrs Weller lost her husband tragically and
suddenly last year. As a family, they had been planning
for some time to return to the UK to make their home
near to Mr Weller's extended network of family and
extensive network of friends. Their 2-year old daughter
is a British citizen and it was their wish that she be
educated and raised in the UK.

By denying Mrs Weller's application, the Home Office
is de facto expelling a British citizen as no one could
expect mother and daughter to be separated especially
following such tragic events.

I urge you - in the spirit of compassion - to reconsider the
decision made by the Home Office.

Yours faithfully,

Dave Gorman


If you're so inclined, I think it would help if you were to write also.


simonweller said...

Thanks so much Dave!

Ten said...

That first email address is bouncing back messages ( even with the @ symbol inserted.

fourstar71 said...

Appalling lack of compassion; I am right there and have contacted the both.

However, the email address that was bouncing should be "...homeoffice.." (no 's') so just a typo.


simonweller said...

Sorry guys, the Home Office must have shut
that address down temporarily (hopefully
because of the amount of people emailing
on behalf of my sister-in-law!) It might be
better to write using snail mail - then it
will definitely get there.

This is Jacqui Smith's consitiuency email:

Thanks so much for writing!

Simon Weller

simonweller said...

This seems to be working:

Dave Gorman said...

Typo on my part... as fourstar observed I'd inserted a stray 's'. It's now corrected.

Anonymous said...

This is a very similar case to that of my brother in law. He is American, married to my sister, British, with a British daughter. They all lived in Thailand. Last October they travelled back to the UK at very short notice as my sister had a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Sadly she died less than a month later. My brother in law entered on a visitor's visa as to wait would have meant my sister dying away from her family. They too had been planning a return to the UK. He has so far been given a 1 year resident's permit and will have to reapply. Anyway the point of this comment is to say that a lawyer friend of mine referred me to a case in the European Court: Man Lavette Chen and Catherine Zhu v. the Home Office, in which the daughter aged 4 was an Irish citizen, and they were trying to deport the mother (they lived in Cardiff). They were prevented from doing so on the grounds that to do so would prevent the child from exercising her human rights to reside in the UK, as an EU citizen.

See this press release:

I will email the home office and Jacqui Smith for you. I hope things work out. As you say it is very hard to have to deal with this under already devastating circumstances.

simonweller said...

Elaine, so sorry to hear about your devastating
loss. It's incredible how similar the cases are.
Thanks for advising me about the EU case,
I'll go and the read the article now.

Best, Simon

simonweller said...

Here's our Facebook Group:

hickers said...

Dear Simon and David,
E mails sent. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed.

BadAlbert said...

I wish to say that to reject the application of Mrs Aranya Weller because it lacked "compelling or compassionate grounds." is not only heartless but unfounded. What more "compelling or compassionate grounds" could possibly be required than those demonstrated in this case? To reject this application is to reject the very notion of compassion, and I have no idea what could possibly compell such a decision. It is a disgrace and should be overturned on the very grounds which are denied to exist.

Rachel said...

I am going to email and post letters. Thanks for posting the Facebook group, I've joined that and will send messages to all my other friends on there. Good luck.

Dave Frear said...

Shocking. I've wrote my message. I hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

Andy was a dear friend of mine. I am glad to see this terrible story is finally getting the publicity it deserves. Much love

Sam, sam, the hyde park man said...

Jaquie Smith is on 'This morning' today, and doing a live phone in. Perhaps this may be a route to getting contact?

Anonymous said...

I've emailed, too.

Really hope it helps.


Stevyn Colgan said...

I dropped a letter into the House of Commons by hand. I'd like to think that the Home Secretary has some compassion and common sense. However, as a serving police officer I don't have great hopes ...

Anonymous said...

Since Blogger has cut out the e-mail address option it doesn't seem possible to send a copy of the e-mail to either of you. Perhaps Simon might post an e-mail address for the lawyers handling the application appeal.

Unknown said...

Aranya has now been granted a two year visa.

Anonymous said...

I have just started reading your blog Dave, and am so pleased to see that Aranya has now been granted a two year visa.

Had this not yet have been granted I too would have contacted Jackie Smith & the Home Office.