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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 16:27 GMT
Biggs's son appeals to stay in UK
Michael Biggs
Michael Biggs wants to stay with his father
The son of train robber Ronnie Biggs has set out his case to be allowed to stay in Britain with his ailing father.

Brazilian-born Michael Biggs, 27, says he is the only person who can communicate with his father Ronnie - who returned to jail in the UK in poor health after 35 years on the run.

Mr Biggs' temporary visa is believed to have expired on 24 September.

His appeal under the Human Rights Act to stay in the country was heard by an immigration adjudicator on Thursday.

I am frightened that they will take him away from me when he needs me most

Michael Biggs
Mr Biggs said his 72-year-old father, who has suffered a number of strokes and been treated in hospital a number of times since returning to Britain, can only speak in grunts.

"I am the only person who really understands him as he cannot speak any longer," he told the immigration appeals hearing in central London.

"I help him to communicate with the doctors and they find it easier when I'm there."

No British citizenship

Mr Biggs said his father, who is being held in Belmarsh Prison, was "very, very concerned" about the outcome of the hearing.

"I believe my father would get so depressed and sad if I was flown out of the country, he wouldn't be able to see anybody else," he said.

Ronnie Biggs in Brazil
Biggs fled to Brazil and enjoyed the high life
Mr Biggs, who says he has a house, career and family in Brazil, said he had spent two years nursing his father before their decision to return to Britain earlier this year.

He is not entitled to British citizenship because his father never married his mother, Brazilian Raimunda Rothen.

Gareth Jones, for the Immigration Service, said there was nothing to stop Mr Biggs staying in the country on a normal visitor's visa which could be renewed indefinitely as long as he left the UK briefly for the end of its six-month duration.

"Ronnie Biggs is a very sick man but there is no evidence to show that he is terminally ill," he said.

'Self-inflicted wound'

Mr Jones said he maintained his mental facilities and could communicate, although with some difficulty, with the hospital staff.

He added: "It should be remembered that Ronnie Biggs chose voluntarily to return to the UK."

The situation they find themselves in now is one they themselves have created

Gareth Jones, Immigration Service
James Gillespie, barrister for Michael Biggs, said there was a "very close emotional dependency" between the two men.

He said claims that the situation the men found themselves in was a "self-inflicted wound" were unfair and undermined the respect of the law.

Judgment in the case was reserved until 3 December.

The Home Office told BBC News Online it would not comment on individual immigration cases.

The Criminal Cases Review Board (CCRB) is currently reviewing the length of Biggs' 30-year jail sentence for his part in the 2.6m robbery of the Glasgow to London mail train.

Biggs is not due for release until 13 May 2020.

See also:

05 Nov 01 | England
Biggs' sentence under review
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