Couple forced to live outside UK have house turned into weed farm and destroyed by fire
The blaze at his home in Northumberland has left 47-year-old Michael Grieve on the edge of bankruptcy, while he and his wife Athena, who is originally from South Africa, remain in Ireland after the UK Home Office refused to grant her a visa, according to the Independent.
Athena Grieve was refused re-entry despite the couple having married in the UK less than two years ago. They have been living in Ireland, where Athena’s passport was accepted, while they seek to overturn the decision.
The couple were in the process of making arrangements to rent out their house while they prepared Ms Grieve's settlement visa application for the UK - only to be hit with the devastating news that their house had fallen victim to a suspected electrical fire.
Mr Grieve, who has an eight-year-old daughter in the UK, claims the government's immigration system was "not fit for purpose." He also criticized the Home Office of misusing the visa application system to block people of ethnic minorities from residing in the UK, while illegal immigrants were able to commit crimes, like the ones on his on premises, without ramifications.
He told the Independent: "We have ploughed almost £3,000 into our application and wasted 15 months of our lives - all to no avail and with no valid reasoning forthcoming for our refusal.
“Meanwhile, criminal activity on the part of foreign drug farmers has led to a devastating fire at my once beautiful home. For this to be going on at the same time it's absolutely unfathomable to me - it is heartbreaking.”
A Northumbria Police spokesperson, commenting on the cannabis farm, said: “At around 12.54am on Tuesday, March 13, police received a request for assistance at a house fire on First Row in Ashington.
Police and the fire service attended the scene and the fire was extinguished. It was brought to the attention of police that a cannabis farm had been discovered at the property.
“It is believed that the fire could have been caused by an electrical fault relating to equipment used for the cannabis plants. Inquiries are ongoing to identify the offenders responsible.”
The Home Office have said it could not comment on details of Athena Grieve's case because the inquiry was ongoing.
A spokesperson said: “All applications for settlement visas are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with the immigration rules, and are based on evidence provided by the applicant."
You can donate to the Grieve family's relief via their crowdfund here.
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