Banker loses his battle to stay

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The Independent Online
A NIGERIAN man who built a successful business after being abandoned in Britain as a boy lost his latest deportation battle yesterday and now faces being sent back to Africa.

The Court of Appeal rejected an application from Ben James, 29, to have his case referred to the House of Lords.

He is now planning a last-ditch plea to Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, to show compassion and not deport him. He may also take his case to the European Court.

Mr James, a commodities broker from East Dulwich, London, was brought to Britain at the age of 14 by his father - who feared political persecution - and was enrolled in a private school. During his time there he lost contact with his parents.

Mr James, who has received backing from MP and Health Minister Tessa Jowell, said after yesterday's ruling: "I'm extremely upset, depressed and angry. I don't know where the future lies. I can't go back to where I came from. I don't know the place. I have no home or friends there or enough money to start again. I don't even speak the language. Britain is my home. I have been told I could be arrested at any moment now and put on a plane to Nigeria."

Mr James fell foul of the immigration authorities by failing to apply for an extension when his original permission to live here as a student ran out in 1986. His case came to light when he approached the Home Office in 1991, trying to put things right. A seven-year legal battle followed.

He said: "What I am hoping for is that the Home Secretary will show a little compassion at the end of the day.

"One wonders what the definition of compassion is. I didn't choose to be left here as a child, nor have I committed any crime. But I've paid my taxes and employed other people in my business. What more could you ask?"

Yesterday, Lord Justice Roch and Lord Justice Waller rejected his application for leave to seek judicial review. They upheld a High Court ruling that he did not have an arguable case. Mr James wanted a review of the Home Secretary's decisions not to grant him indefinite leave to remain here and to confirm a deportation order signed in 1994.

Dismissing the application, Lord Justice Roch said the Home Secretary had been entitled to decide last July that the 15 years Mr James had spent building his life in Britain did not outweigh the need for "effective immigration control".

Lord Justice Roch said Mr James had made no attempt to regularise his position until April 1991 and was therefore not entitled to rely on long- term residence as a valid ground for being allowed to stay.

Outside court, Mr James's solicitor, Tiki Emezie, said further representations would now be made to the Home Office on compassionate grounds.

An application could also be made to the European Court of Human Rights, based on the argument that it would be "inhumane and degrading treatment" to deport Mr James.

Despite an announcement by the Government in July that all asylum-seekers who arrived in Britain before 1993 would be given leave to stay, ministers have backed moves to deport Mr James. They argue that his case was being examined before the switch in policy.