Broker defeats Straw bid to deport him to Nigeria

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The Independent Online

Ben James, the commodities broker threatened with deportation to Africa, dealt the Home Secretary a humiliating blow yesterday by winning the right to remain in Britain.

It was the triumphant culmination of Nigerian-born Mr James' nine-year legal battle to stay in the country where he was abandoned by his family as a 16-year-old schoolboy.

In an independent adjudication issued yesterday, Judge Dunn said he had reached an "entirely clear opinion that the applicant should not be deported". The judge said: "He has established to my satisfaction beyond any doubt at all that his contacts, his relationships, his community orientations are of a positive nature in the United Kingdom and that the United Kingdom can properly be considered his real and genuine home."

Jack Straw, who resisted widespread calls for leniency in the case, agreed to revoke the deportation order. The Immigration and Nationality Directorate informed Mr James arrangements would be made "to regularise his stay here".

An ecstatic Mr James, 31, whose case was first highlighted by The Independent, said last night: "I am now a free man and can at last get on with my life." He accused Mr Straw of trying to make political capital out of the case by seeking to send a tough message to potential illegal immigrants. "They thought they would make an example of me but they chose the wrong guy. I did not come here illegally and I did not choose to come here."

Mr James, who has no friends in Nigeria and no longer speaks Yoruba, came within an hour of being deported last June after being taken to a detention centre near Gatwick airport to be put on a plane for Africa.

Mr James said: "They have attempted to break me financially, physically, psychologically and emotionally but you cannot break the spirit of someone who is determined to make a life for themselves."

In a 32-page judgment, Judge Dunn said: "After 17 years living in the UK and with the difficulties of family contact, languages ... the applicant would have a very difficult and uphill struggle in getting himself re-established in Nigeria."