A HEARTBROKEN family faces Christmas without their mum after a Home Office blunder blocked her from returning home from Thailand where she was looking after her sick father.
Patcharee Peacock (35), known as Pat, is desperate to see her three children and husband James after being separated from them since January.
In April she applied for a visa to come home but last week was stunned when it was turned down on the grounds that the family have been living in Thailand for 11 years – when they have been living in the UK for the whole of that period while two of her children were born here and have never even visited Thailand.
Speaking from the family’s Pennington home, James (39) said: “It’s absolutely awful to think she won’t be here for Christmas as both she and the children were so looking forward to being together at last. We were all so excited and happy and planning a big family Christmas.
“It’s not fair on them. They really need their mother and she is desperate to come home. She is heartbroken that she won’t be with her children on Christmas Day.”
Pat and James met in Thailand in 2003 and were married in 2007. They had their first child Jeanna the same year then moved back to the UK when she was one year old.
Pat successfully applied for a European Family Permit which allowed her to live here. The couple went on to have Jensen (7) and Junior (6). All three of them have attended local nurseries and primary schools.
James, who runs a computer company, said: “There have never been any problems with Pat being here, she’s never been in the UK illegally. In January she had to fly back to Thailand as her father had had a stroke.
“We applied for a spousal visa to allow her to return to the UK around April. We thought it would all be quite straightforward.
“In that application we sent proof of the children being born here, letters from their schools and other evidence that showed we had all been living here together for over 10 years.
“But three months later I received a letter from the Home Office asking for a whole mountain of extra documents including a year’s worth of company accounts, records of VAT payments, payslips, bank statements etc to prove that I met the threshold of £18,600 needed for the issue of a spousal visa.
“It was a massive list and I only had 10 days to send them.
“They gave me an extra 16 days but I missed that deadline as I couldn’t get all the documentation together in time even though I worked hours and hours on getting it all.”
James had a solicitor helping him with the application, which was made on the basis that as the wife of a British citizen who met the £18,600 threshold she was entitled to live here. It was also submitted that it was a breach of her children’s rights under Article 8 of the Convention of Human Rights not to allow their mother to be with them.
But to his shock last week James received a letter from the Home Office – which arrived on two of his children’s birthdays – turning down her visa application, in which an official stated: “I have also considered the fact that you, your husband and children have lived together in Thailand for 11 years.”
James said: “It is obviously a big mistake on their part as our children have spent their whole lives here. Two of them have never even been out of the UK for holidays, let alone spent 11 years in Thailand!
“Both I and my solicitor told the Home Office that, but now they are insisting we apply again or appeal, all of which could take months.
“They are not listening to the fact that they have got it wrong.”
James says he has done his best to cope while Pat has been away, but added: “My parents have been helping me care for the children but I’m finding it increasingly hard to look after them and carry on working.
“The children are missing their mum terribly – there have been a few tears. It’s not fair on them to be apart from her so long.
“She Facetimes nearly every day but it’s not the same as having her here with them. The worst thing is not knowing when this nightmare is going to end and we finally have my wife back with us.”
James’ mother Jane Peacock (60), a social work lecturer, and her husband Tony (52), who works for Wightlink Ferries, have been supporting him since Pat went away.
Jane said: “It’s just awful for the family. My son has gone to the ends of the Earth to provide everything the Home Office wanted but it’s come to nothing.
“They’ve obviously made a huge mistake but don’t want to admit it. My daughter-in-law is the most wonderful person, she’s never claimed a penny in benefits and she should be here with her children.
“They have been absolutely amazing, so strong. But as a grandmother, to see them without their mum is just heartbreaking.”
Mr Peacock’s solicitor has now sent a letter to the Home Office pointing out their mistake and insisting they review Pat’s case immediately.
In it they state: “The Home Office is well aware that our client has three young children, all British, under the age of 11 who have not seen their mother since January 2018
“Could you confirm whether the Home Office deems it appropriate to separate our client from her young children for such a protracted period?
“We have had sight of our client’s refusal letter, dated 3rd December 2018, and request that you reconsider your decision on the basis that the Secretary of State has had total disregard to the welfare of the children.
“Furthermore, the decision is based on information which is factually incorrect. It is submitted that the Home Office has totally failed in its duty to have regard to the best interest of the children. Given the passage of time, the decision is irresponsible and unreasonable.”