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‘Distraught’ father fights deportation after 23 years in UK

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A father facing deportation after 23 years in the UK says he is “distraught” as he fights to remain with his wife and two young children.

Hilary Ineomo-Marcus, who moved to Brixton, south London, when he was 10, was due to be deported to Nigeria but it was delayed after his blood pressure rose to dangerous levels.

Doctors in a high-security wing of Harmondsworth immigration removal centre in west London declared Mr Ineomo-Marcus, 34, unfit to fly in a last-minute decision less than an hour before his scheduled flight.

His deportation has not been cancelled, however, and will likely be rescheduled as his lawyers attempt to appeal.

Speaking to Sky News from the detention centre, Mr Ineomo-Marcus said he was “distraught” at the prospect of removal to a country where he has no family or contacts.

“Agonising is an understatement,” he said. “This is a defining moment not just for me, but for my children’s future too.”

Mr Ineomo-Marcus was given leave to remain in the UK in the 2000s. But that was revoked by the Home Office after he was jailed for a tax offence in 2013.

He has been judged at low risk of reoffending and forged a successful career as a radio host and volunteer for offender reform charities, telling Sky News he regards himself as engaged in “paying back a debt to society”.

Mr Ineomo-Marcus and his supporters say his removal will have a “catastrophic effect” on his two sons, aged three and one, for whom he is the primary carer, and that his wife’s mental health has already been seriously affected.

“My children are always asking when I’m coming home,” he told Sky News.

Officials have dismissed his pleas, however, saying services such as the NHS will step in to support the family in the event of negative consequences.

Speaking from Harmondsworth, he said he does not know anybody in Nigeria, and that the “only safety net” has been an offer of a bed from his cellmate who is set to be deported on the same flight.

The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases, but said foreign nationals who abuse the UK’s “hospitality” will be removed and that more than 44,500 people had been deported under these circumstances since 2010.

All foreign nationals who receive a custodial sentence of more than 12 months in the UK are considered for deportation.

Recent high-profile cases of removals include that of Kweku Adeboli, the former UBS banker who was deported to Ghana this month after serving four years for fraud.

Celia Clarke, director of Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) said it was “utterly inhumane” to separate families of people who were “to all intents and purposes British”.

“People like Hilary are not ‘guests’ in this country as depicted by the Home Office, they are part of our society and should not be treated in such a cruel way,” she told Sky News.

“The automatic deportation provisions under the UK Borders Act should be repealed, and legal aid should be restored for family and private life cases.”

Mr Ineomo-Marcus has said he will seek further opportunity to appeal his case.

A protest outside parliament was held on Tuesday and MPs include David Lammy have expressed support for his case.

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