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Judges delay decision on deportation

26 July 2013

PA

Challenge: the Home Secretary, Theresa May 

Challenge: the Home Secretary, Theresa May 

A KIDNEY patient who faces death in her home country is facing further doubt about whether she might be deported. Specialists treating the patient, Nigerian-born Roseline Akhalu, say that she would die within weeks of arriving in her country, as she could not afford the medical treatment to keep her alive.At an Upper Immigration Tribunal held in London on Thursday of last week, the Home Office challenged a judicial ruling that she could stay in Britain, and the tribunal judges reserved their decision to a future hearing.

Mrs Akhalu, a 49-year-old widow, came to the UK in 2004 on a Ford Foundation scholarship to read for a Master's degree at Leeds University. But she developed kidney failure shortly after her arrival. She underwent dialysis treatment until a successful transplant in 2009, but she needs regular hospital checks and anti-rejection drugs.

The Home Office declared her a "health tourist", and began deportation procedures, but last November she won the right to stay.

At the hearing last week, Christopher Avery, for the Home Secretary, said: "The Secretary of State's general view is that, as a fundamental principle, the welfare of an individual remains the responsibility of the state. Her welfare and care is the responsibility of Nigerian authorities in this case."

But counsel for Mrs Akhalu, Ronan Toal, said that her siblings could not support her, and she would not be able to afford the treatment. "She would die in a harrowing and undignified way within about four weeks of moving to Nigeria," he said.

Mrs Akhalu is a member of the congregation at St Augustine's, a Roman Catholic church near her home in Harehills, Leeds. She is supported by her church, and by the former Lord Mayor of Leeds, Canon Alan Taylor.

The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, and her MP, Greg Mulholland, have written to the Immigration Minister, Damian Green, urging him to intervene.

After the 90-minute hearing, Mrs Akhalu said: "I was very devastated when they appealed against my case. . . . I just want them [the Home Office] to let me be so I can live my life. I'm a law-abiding citizen." She also has the backing of the actor Colin Firth, who said: "We all hope that the good sense and humanity displayed so far by the courts will now prevail, and that her life will be saved."

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