Stranded abroad: The UK businessman who lost his passport in Bali
Home Office says it has no record of issuing Indonesian-born Agung Mantra leave to remain in UK with his family
Chris Green is Senior Reporter at The Independent and i, covering all aspects of UK news. He has worked for the paper since 2007, first as a general news reporter and then on the news desk as Deputy News Editor. In 2010 he was on the launch team of the i. Shortly after returning to reporting in 2014, he spearheaded both papers’ coverage of the Scottish independence referendum.
Friday 11 July 2014
A businessman from Cornwall who lost his passport in Bali has been stranded on the island for five months because the UK Government has refused to reissue documents granting him the right to live in the UK.
Agung Mantra, 38, was born in Indonesia but has lived in the seaside resort of Perranporth for 14 years, where he runs two gift shops with his British wife. The couple also have a 13-year-old son called Marley who attends a local school.
In February the family travelled to Bali to buy stock for their businesses. While they were there Mr Mantra lost his passport, which he says contained Indefinite Leave to Remain papers dating back to 2001 which granted him the right to live in Britain.
His family returned home without him so Marley could go back to school, leaving Mr Mantra to stay with relatives. But the Home Office has subsequently refused to reissue his papers, saying it has no record of granting them in the first place.
Lesley Bain, Mr Mantra’s wife, told The Independent she was “devastated” at being separated from him for so long. “We’re in contact daily on the phone but I haven’t been able to see him. We’re having to employ somebody to cover my husband’s job…I honestly don’t know [when he’ll be back].”
Rebecca Jay, a local businesswoman who knows the family, said Mr Mantra had “every piece of evidence going” to prove his citizenship and should be allowed back into Britain immediately. “What I think the Home Office should be doing is issuing him with a temporary six month visa in order that he is back here in the UK with his family and able to run his business, because the next two months are critical [for them],” she said.
A London bus carrying a message from campaigners seeking Agung Mantra's return to the UK More than 2,000 people have joined a Facebook group calling on the Government to allow Mr Mantra back into the UK, while a petition on the a Change.org website has attracted almost 1,500 signatures. It describes the businessman as a “hard working, tax paying contributor to the UK” and says his family are “valued, integrated, active members of the community”.
Mr Mantra’s situation has been taken up by his local MP Sarah Newton, who has tabled a parliamentary question on his case. “I very much share local concerns regarding Agung’s plight,” she wrote on her website. “I will be doing everything I can to reunite Agung with his wife and children as soon as possible. I have written to the Home Office to make his case and will keep up the pressure.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The onus is normally on the individual to provide all the necessary evidence to support their visa application. However we are working with Mr Mantra to conduct the necessary checks in order to establish his claim to hold Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.”
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