THE wife of a man who is due to be deported to Sierra Leone tomorrow after immigration officials declared their marriage a sham made a final plea to the authorities to allow him to stay last night.
Ruby Charles, 46, said her husband Justice, who has lived with her in Sheffield for the past three years, was yesterday taken to an immigration removal centre in Colnbrook, near Heathrow Airport.
She claims her husband has suffered unfairly at the hands of immigration officers, who told her that it was deemed the couple had entered into a “marriage of convenience” to allow Mr Charles, 35, to stay in the UK.
But the mother-of-five has angrily denied the accusation and a Sheffield-based campaign has been set up to try to help her in her fight, with support from the vicar who married them as well as her doctor, MPs and local councillors.
Disabled Mrs Charles, who lives in Fieldhead Road, Highfield, Sheffield, said her husband claimed asylum in 2002 after fleeing violence in his home country, where he had worked against rebels in the country’s protracted civil war. They met in 2003 and wed five years later.
He is now booked on a flight at 1.40pm tomorrow from Heathrow bound for the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown, but Mrs Charles, who was born in Sheffield, said she feared he would not last long after his arrival.
She added: “He is suffering from depression but there is nobody there who will be able to help him, and if he goes into a mental hospital I have been told he will be chained up and left to rot.
“I don’t understand why the Home Office is doing this to us, he has looked after my children as though they are his own and has done nothing wrong.
“He hasn’t taken a penny from the Government.”
The vicar of St Mary’s Church in Sheffield, Canon Julian Sullivan has written to the UK Border Agency in a bid to persuade officials the marriage he carried out was genuine.
He said: “I was very concerned to read a Home Office letter describing their marriage as a sham, contracted merely to allow Justice to stay in the country.”
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “Mr Charles’s case has been fully considered by the UK Border Agency and it has been found that he is not in need of protection. This decision was upheld at appeal by an immigration judge.
“Where an individual is found to have no right to be in the UK we expect them to leave voluntarily. If they fail to do so the UK Border Agency will enforce their removal.”