Chef's video plea to Norfolk
The Norwich chef at the centre of a visa wrangle has sent an emotional video to the EDP urging people to support his campaign to return to the UK. Howard Lee, the “face and voice” of Bedfords and The Crypt Restaurant, is currently stuck in Malaysia, his native country, despite having lived in the UK for half his life and having an English wife. Link to Howard's petition
The Norwich chef at the centre of a visa wrangle has sent an emotional video to the EDP urging people to support his campaign to return to the UK.
Howard Lee, the "face and voice" of Bedfords Bar and Restaurant, is stuck in Malaysia, his native country, despite having lived in
the UK for half his life and having an English wife, Fiona Williamson, 31.
His cheerful face is well-known to regulars of the city bar and restaurant where he was head chef and general manager.
But in Mr Lee's video, his usual cheeky smile is replaced by a worried yet determined expression as he speaks about the heartbreak of being separated from his wife, whom he married in July 2006, and his battle to return home to Norfolk.
"I'm Howard Lee and I am currently on the other side of the globe from my wife, and my wife faces the possibility of me, her husband, not ever being able to come home," he says.
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"That is not something the immigration system has a right to do. It does not have a right to tear the life of a married couple apart. It does not have the right to separate two people who are in love.
"I understand there's a need for a system. I understand a need for regulation. However, that is taking this a bit too far."
He urges people to support his campaign by signing his petition and he is asking for anybody who thinks they can help in any way to leave their e-mail address on his petition.
"I need to get home. I need to get back to Norwich and I need to be back with Fiona - and you could possibly help me. Thank you," says the 24-year-old.
Mr Lee came to Norfolk in 1995 on a student visa. In 2002 he applied for British naturalization and sent his passport to the Home Office.
Despite continually contacting the Home Office, it was not until his MP Charles Clarke got involved in 2005 that Mr Lee discovered his naturalization application had been denied in 2002 and the Home Office had no record of receiving his passport.
Despite now having no visa, complications getting a new passport meant he could not leave the UK until July this year, when he returned to Malaysia and applied for a settlement visa to live with his wife.
But a document from the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur stated Mr Lee's application was refused due to lack of evidence of past visas and whether he abided by their conditions.
Mr Lee claims all of this evidence is in the passport which he believes the Home Office lost in 2002.
He is now appealing the decision and his petition will be used as evidence to support his appeal.
To support Mr Lee online, visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/bringhowardhome
There is also a petition at Bedfords Bar and Restaurant.