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Ipswich: Paul Mason devastated by US visa decision which sees skin removal operation put on hold

PUBLISHED: 17:56 02 April 2014 | UPDATED: 06:37 03 April 2014

Paul Mason of Ipswich. Photograph by Paul Nixon Photography.

Paul Mason of Ipswich. Photograph by Paul Nixon Photography.

The man once dubbed Britain’s fattest has revealed his devastation when told that he couldn’t go ahead with his skin removal operation in the US because immigration officials there were concerned about his criminal record.

Ipswich’s Paul Mason, 53, had applied for a medical visa in order to have an operation in New York to remove excess skin which has been left following his dramatic weight loss.

The visa is a legal obligation for anybody who intends to stay in the USA for more than 90 days, and one of the questions in the application process is whether the subject has any previous convictions.

Mr Mason, who once weighed in at 70 stone, declared his previous convictions for fraud which arose during the depths of his binge eating in 1989, when he had falsified accounts at the Royal Mail in order to steal money to fund his habit.

“It was why I left Royal Mail, I was in debt through my eating disorder and I was falsifying accounts that I was dealing with,” said Mr Mason.

“I knew I would get caught eventually and I wanted to actually because I wanted help. I knew I was going to go to prison and I got a criminal record and I knew that was going to be the end of my career at Royal Mail but I thought at least I might get some help, in the end that wasn’t forthcoming.”

Mr Mason spent 12 months in Norwich prison as a result of the convictions, but hoped that the episode had been put to bed until he applied for his US visa.

“I went for the visa interview in early March and they turned around and said sorry, the application, because of your criminal record, has to go away to Inland Security in Washington and has to be authorised by them,” he said.

“That was so disappointing because the operation was planned for this month and my surgeon in New York was making arrangements. It’s such a kick in the teeth.

“They’ve also told me that instead of granting a visa for 10 years they’ll only grant it for 12 months at a time.”

Mr Mason won’t find out until August or September if his visa application has been successful and everything has been put on hold until then, including his marriage to his American love Rebecca Mountain.

“She can’t afford to come over again soon and is busy with her business,” he said. “My health is getting worse really because the excess skin now is causing problems with my bladder because of the weight on my tummy.”

Mr Mason described the decision as “unfair” and said: “It’s not as if I have had a major ongoing criminal record since then and I could understand it if I was a member of a terrorist group or had ongoing issues with drug dealing that would cause issues in America. It’s really unfair.”

However the love-stricken Mason still intends to get married and help Rebecca with her cat-furniture business.

Essex’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel has approved an average £12 increase in council tax - which looks to provide 150 more frontline officers in the county.

Essex’s new fire chief says she was ‘delighted and excited’ to be offered the role.

Teams are being sought for a charity challenge set to test their fitness and resourcefulness and at the same time raise money for a worthy cause.

The region’s ambulance trust, which is facing allegations of patient deaths due to delays, is to be the subject of a “risk summit”.

A gas fitter who crashed has van on the way home from an 11-hour Boxing Day binge has been handed a suspended jail term.

The site of the former Thurleston Cricket Centre on the edge of Ipswich could be cleared to make way for a new 66-room care home if planners agree.

Emergency services have been called to the scene of a crash on the A14 near Coddenham.

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