Mother refused right to live in UK

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The mother of a 17-month-old baby is facing deportation after yesterday losing a plea in the Court of Appeal to be allowed to remain in the United Kingdom with her family under the protection of European law.

Three judges unanimously ruled in a test case that Kulwinder Phull, 27, from India, had no legal right to stay even though she was married to a UK citizen, Harpal, 30, and her young son, Haramjeet, was also British.

Lawyers for Mrs Phull, of Greenford, west London, argued that her deportation would infringe the rights of her husband and son as European Union citizens under the Maastricht treaty.

Ian Macdonald QC, for the Phull family, argued that the treaty expanded the existing right of EU citizens "to reside and move freely within the territory of member states". As a result, Mr Phull now enjoyed "a European right" to reside in the UK which ran parallel to his benefits as a British citizen - and included the "right of family reunion". He argued that the courts were legally bound to stop the family being split up by Mrs Phull's deportation.

But Lord Justice Leggatt, Lord Justice Waite and Lord Justice Schiemann disagreed. In a joint judgment which will affect many other similar cases, they ruled that the treaty did not apply to "purely internal" situations in a particular country and no additional right of citizenship had been created.

They dismissed the Phull family's application for judicial review of the Home Secretary's refusal last August to revoke the deportation order.

Mrs Phull first arrived in Britain in May 1989 and entered into a first marriage which failed. The deportation order was made against her in May 1991, a month after she married Harpal.

Lawyers for the family asked for leave to appeal to the House of Lords on the grounds that it was an important test case which might have to be decided by the European Court of Justice. The judges refused leave.

The Home Office undertook not to proceed with Mrs Phull's deportation until after she had an opportunity to petition the law lords directly.