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Home Office delays leave Sri Lankan man in immigration limbo | Immigration and asylum

A man who got here to the UK to coach as an accountant nearly 40 years in the past has been left homeless after a listing of Home Office delays.

Ponnampalam Jothibala, 69, a Sri Lankan Tamil, got here to the UK in 1983 to take up a spot on a course on the London College of Accountancy with hopes of forging knowledgeable profession.

He was granted durations of short-term leave to stay by the Home Office in the Eighties however halted his research after experiencing trauma as a sufferer of an arson assault in which three folks died. He survived the fireplace by leaping out of a first-floor window.

He was convicted of fraud and theft in 2003, and the Home Office deliberate to deport him, however he lodged an attraction and an immigration decide dominated in his favour in Might 2006. The decide discovered that Jothibala had been pressured and intimidated by criminals into committing the crime, from which he had derived no profit himself.

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Ponnampalam Jothibala
Ponnampalam Jothibala. {Photograph}: Equipped

The Home Office wrongly recorded on Jothibala’s file that he had misplaced somewhat than gained his attraction, though officers took no steps to take away him from the UK, nor did they attraction in opposition to the decide’s ruling.

When Jothibala obtained a replica of his inner Home Office file, he noticed an entry made in February 2014 – eight years after the decide had dominated that he had the best to stay in the UK – saying that he wouldn’t qualify for a grant of leave and that “referral for elimination ought to now be thought-about”.

One other notice in July 2014 acknowledged that Home Office officers, having spoken to the courts and tribunal service, now knew that the attraction had been upheld somewhat than dismissed. The notice acknowledged that “in gentle of the mishandling of the case following the dedication of 2006”, the case would now be reconsidered.

However nothing was performed. In 2015 Jothibala’s then MP, Mike Gapes, wrote to the Home Office in regards to the case and was suggested that Jothibala had no foundation of keep in the UK and ought to make preparations to leave as quickly as doable. The letter to Gapes supplied details about voluntary return to Sri Lanka.

Jothibala’s immigration limbo continued. In 2019 a notice on his file mentioned a grievance had been obtained, to which officers wanted to reply. “If we don’t meet the deadline there’s a danger that the complainant might escalate the matter to the parliamentary and well being service ombudsman for a proper investigation,” the notice mentioned. Nonetheless nothing was performed.

Final week Jothibala’s solicitor, Naga Kandiah of MTC Solicitors, despatched a letter earlier than motion to the Home Office informing officers that he can be lodging judicial evaluation proceedings if the Home Office didn’t speedily resolve the matter. He mentioned the Home Office’s failure to implement the 2006 immigration tribunal determination was illegal and unreasonable.

Kandiah mentioned: “This case is a sobering reminder of how a historic injustice can devastate an individual’s life. My consumer has misplaced out on so many alternatives to progress in life as a result of the Home Office didn’t implement the 2006 judgment.”

When Jothibala got here to the UK in 1983 he had hopes of knowledgeable profession. Schooling was extremely valued in his household – each his dad and mom had been academics, and shut relations are legal professionals, docs and accountants.

As a substitute he has spent many years homeless and couch browsing, generally sleeping on a mat at London Sree Ayyappan Temple in Harrow the place he helped out as a volunteer prepare dinner earlier than the pandemic struck.

Suntharampillai Kirubahar, (corr) a founder and trustee on the temple, mentioned: “He’s a incredible individual, a really good chap and very entertaining, however he has been hiding a lot sorrow.”

Jothibala mentioned he hoped his case would lastly be resolved. “I’ve been ready, ready, ready for my case to be sorted out. I’ve been sleeping right here and there for a very long time, generally sleeping on a mat on the temple and cooking vegetarian meals like biriyanis for individuals who come to the temple.

“The one factor I’m eager for is a vacation. I’d like to be someplace by the ocean in the sunshine.”

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A Home Office spokesperson mentioned: “The Home Office might be defending its strategy in this case. It will be inappropriate to remark additional on potential authorized proceedings.”

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