Jury reverses decision that kept former airman from living with his wife
WICKEN — Tom and Margaret Gable had to overcome more than an ocean between them. They also had to beat a bureaucrat’s decision that might have kept them apart.
The on-again, off-again couple met in the late 1970s when he served at RAF Lakenheath and she worked in a pub where he played music on weekends.
He left the Air Force after his time as a fighter jet mechanic at the 48th Fighter Wing, but served the remainder of his 20 years with the New York Army National Guard. They married this spring at a ceremony in rural New York.
But the couple hit a major snag on their way to happily ever after. A British consulate official in New York City refused to issue Tom Gable a visa to enter and stay in Britain based on a few disparaging sentences he wrote about President Bush in a letter submitted as part of his application.
In the letter, he questioned Bush’s intellectual prowess. The consulate official deemed that was a sign Tom Gable was desperate to leave his home country.
“She (the consulate official) did not believe we would live together in the U.K.; therefore, it was a marriage of convenience to her,” Tom Gable said. “She based that on that one sentence in one letter rather than all the other evidence that showed we really do love each other. It’s almost like she was looking for something.”
The decision perplexed Margaret Gable, who said it cost the couple thousands of dollars to appeal the decision.
“It’s not like he was coming from a Third World country or he’s escaping war or poverty,” she said. “He just prefers to live in England over the United States. And you could never tear me away from my children and grandchildren.”
Her elected representative, Member of Parliament Jim Paice, lobbied the Home Office, the British equivalent of the U.S. State Department, on the Gables’ behalf.
Ultimately, their appeal appeared before British Immigration Judge K.W. Brown, who issued a three-page report on Oct. 4 detailing the couple’s plight.
“It is suggested that [the consulate official] took the letter … out of context,” Brown wrote. “It is clear that the appellant and the sponsor have known each other for many years. No issue is taken regarding the validity of the marriage.”
The judge wrote the refusal was based on “suspicion rather than an objective analysis of the evidence” and went on to write, “the decision was not made in accordance with the law and immigration rules.”
The judge cleared the way for Tom Gable to join his wife in England. The couple now look forward to a new life together in the quiet Cambridgeshire countryside.
“I’m good for two years now, and if I’m a good boy and don’t get in trouble with the law, it will go indefinite,” he said.
Margaret Gable said despite the stress and sleepless nights, she never doubted reason would prevail over suspicion.
“I knew we’d end up together when we are old and driving each other mad to the grave,” she said.