'Model immigrant' to be deported

A "remarkable" immigrant, honoured this week by the Church of England for his contribution to British society, has lost his legal battle to stay in this country.

Damilola Ajagbonna, 19, whose academic record has won him places at Cambridge and Sheffield universities, said he was bitterly disappointed after the Court of Appeal yesterday turned down his final appeal for the right to live here. He is expected to be ordered to return to Nigeria in the next few weeks.

"I have always regarded Britain as a just country and believed that as long as you played by the rules you will be treated fairly," said Mr Ajagbonna. "It is now clear to me that is not the case. For two years I have hoped and I have prayed and I have begged to be treated as a human being, but this has not been enough."

Since coming to Britain from Nigeria with his mother when he was 11 years old, his achievements in education and community work have won him acclaim from teachers and immigration campaigners alike.

On Monday he attended a service at St Paul's Cathedral, where the Bishop of London awarded him the St Mellitus medal for his contribution to his school, the Greig City Academy in Hornsey, north London, where he achieved 13 GCSEs and three A levels.

His former headmaster, Paul Sutton, said Mr Ajagbonna's was one of the school's greatest achievements. "He has been our head boy for as long as I can remember, an absolute star who has given unfailing support. It seems to me he is the very kind of person we need to keep. So it is quite bizarre that we are even thinking about deporting him," Mr Sutton said.

His talents have also been recognised by the United Nations, which in 2005 appointed him an adviser on youth issues to Unicef. He was closely involved in one of the flagship community projects run by the former Department for Education and Skills and held prominent roles in the Children's Rights Alliance for England.

One of the judges who heard Mr Ajagbonna's case described these achievements as "spectacular". He said in his judgment: "I find the appellant's contribution to youth culture in our society as a whole, and to his school society in particular, has been remarkable ... He is clearly an outstanding young man. He would appear both keen to learn and keen to give."

But yesterday Mr Ajagbonna learned that this impressive track record had not earned him the right to stay in the United Kingdom.

Mrs Justice Dobbs ruled that she could find no error in law in the decision to refuse him further leave to remain, adding that her decision was "final and there was no appeal against it".

Mr Ajagbonna said that he was tired of fighting. "I do not want to be patronised any more. The immigration rules are not governed by justice any longer but by the xenophobia of the tabloid press," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "Where a person has been refused further leave to remain, there is a full right of appeal against the decision to the independent asylum and immigration tribunal. An immigration judge will fully consider all aspects of the case, including any further information not provided on the original application."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'