Leeds transplant patient wins right to stay in UK

A NIGERIAN transplant patient from Leeds who claimed she would die within weeks if she was deported has won the right to remain in the UK following a second successful appeal.

Rose Akhalu.

Community volunteer Roseline Akhalu came to study at Leeds University in 2004 but was diagnosed with kidney failure soon after she arrived.

The 49-year-old widow had a successful transplant in 2009 but now needs regular hospital checks and will have to take immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of her life.

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Her legal team argued she would die within weeks if she was returned to Nigeria as she would never be able to afford the drugs that keep her alive.

Despite a successful appeal against deportation in November, Ms Akhalu faced further legal action after the ruling was opposed by the Home Secretary Theresa May, who argued the care of a foreign individual was the responsibility of their state of nationality.

But the High Court upheld a Lower Tier Tribunal’s previous decision that Ms Akhalu should be allowed to stay in the UK, stating the circumstances of the case were “exceptional”.

In his ruling, Judge Southern said: “We are satisfied that the (original) judge did not make any error of law and that his conclusion, even if properly characterised as one that might be thought to be a generous one, does not disclose any legal error.”

Following the judgement, Ms Akhalu said: “Thank you everybody for the support, for the prayers, for the publicity, for everything. Hopefully the UK Border Agency will let matters rest at this stage.”

Her solicitor, Tessa Gregory, expressed delight at the ruling and called for Home Secretary to accept the decision and not to pursue further legal action.

She said: “The facts of Rose’s case are exceptional and have been rightly recognised as such. It must now be time for the Home Secretary to accept that it would be unlawful to deport Rose to a certain and lonely death in Nigeria.

“No more money should be wasted on further appeals and Rose should be allowed to get on with her life within the community that has given her such incredible support throughout this ordeal.”

A five-year-long campaign to keep Ms Akhalu in the UK, which is based in north Leeds, where she lives, has been backed by local politicians, church leaders and Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth.

Esme Madill, from the Save Rose Campaign, said: “We are overjoyed with today’s judgment. Roseline has had to endure months of needless worry and anxiety because of this groundless and expensive appeal by the Home Secretary, which has aggravated Rose’s fragile health condition.

“We really hope that the Home Office now has the sense to admit defeat so that Rose can get on with her life and continue contributing to her community, as she has been doing for so many years.”