Honeymoon go-ahead for couple caught up in passport crisis

The Northern Echo: HUGE RELIEF: Daniel and Jessica Riley celebrate with their passports PICTURE: STUART BOULTON HUGE RELIEF: Daniel and Jessica Riley celebrate with their passports PICTURE: STUART BOULTON

A NEWLY-MARRIED couple are looking forward to going on their honeymoon after a long-awaited passport finally arrived.

Daniel and Jessica Riley, of Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, feared they would not be to fly to Sorrento, in Italy this month after becoming embroiled in the country's ongoing passport crisis, which has seen widespread delays in the processing of applications due to unprecedented levels of demand.

Mr Riley, 27, sent off his passport for renewal in April, expecting it would be returned to him in the standard three-week processing time.

But when it did not appear, he appealed for help through The Northern Echo last week and via Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson.

And much to his relief, Mr Riley received a call on his birthday on Thursday to say his passport was ready.

“I honestly, hand on heart think if I hadn’t complained to my MP I would not be holding my passport now,” he said.

“When I went to collect it I was getting a few funny looks as if they had seen my picture in The Northern Echo so they all knew what had happened and that I had complained.”

The couple said they can get excited about the week-long all inclusive holiday, which will be their first adventure abroad together.

Mr Riley said: “We can now get the suitcases out and start to pack. We are really looking forward to it.

“We sent Jessica’s passport off for renewal the month before because we couldn’t afford to do them at the same time. It came back within two weeks and there was nothing to suggest there was a backlog or any problem.

“We didn’t want to think about not being able to go and as it got nearer we were really worried but thankfully it has been sorted.”

The Passport Office upgraded Mr Riley’s application for free, a measure it is now taking with all urgent cases.

Last week Home Secretary Theresa May was forced to apologise for the widespread delays in passport applications.

The couple paid for their £1,300 holiday with contributions from wedding guests and their own savings.

Mrs Riley, 25, added: “We know the advice is not to book a holiday without a valid passport but we didn’t think it would be a problem. We are pleased to have both passports now and we are really excited and can’t wait to go.”

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