Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 19:33 GMT


Nigerian in final bid to beat deportation

Ben James: "I didn't choose to be left here as a child"

A Nigerian businessman who was financially abandoned by his family in Britain 16 years ago is making a final attempt to avoid deportation.

Ben James: "How can I go back to a place I don't know?"
Commodities broker Ben James, from Dulwich in south London, lost a Court of Appeal battle to block his removal to Nigeria and is planning a last-ditch plea to Home Secretary Jack Straw to show compassion and not deport him.

Mr James, who has received backing from Health Minister Tessa Jowell, says he faces the loss of his business, his home and the jobs he has created for others.

He said he was extremely afraid: "They could now arrest me and put me on a plane to Nigeria, a place where I don't know anybody, have no friends or family and don't speak the language."

Lost contact

Mr James, 29, was sent to Britain to attend private school aged 14, but his family stopped sending money and he eventually lost contact and began making his own way in the world.

He fell foul of the immigration authorities when he failed to regularise his position after overstaying his permission to live in the UK as a student, which expired in 1986.

His case only came to light when he approached the Home Office himself to try to right matters and found himself embroiled in a seven-year legal battle.

'Hoping for compassion'

Mr James said: "What I am hoping for is that the home secretary will show a little compassion at the end of the day.

"One wonders what the definition of compassion is. I didn't choose to be left here as a child, nor have I committed any crime.

"But I've paid my taxes and employed other people in my business. What more could you ask?"

[ image: Jowell: Mr James's case
Jowell: Mr James's case "tragic"
On Monday appeal judges Lord Justice Roch and Lord Justice Waller rejected his application for leave to seek judicial review. They upheld a High Court ruling that he did not have an arguable case.

Mr James wanted a review of the home secretary's decision not to grant him indefinite leave to remain in the UK and his decision to confirm a deportation order signed in 1994.

Dismissing the application, Lord Justice Roch said the home secretary had been entitled to decide last July that the 15 years Mr James had spent building his life in Britain did not outweigh the need for "effective immigration control".

Lord Justice Roch stressed that Mr James, whose original name was Olawale Babatayo when he first arrived in the UK in February 1983, had only lawfully been in the country "in total" for three years, until February 1986, when permission to remain as a student expired.

He had made no further attempt to regularise his position until 1991, when he began his battle to remain in the country under the immigration and asylum laws, and he was therefore not entitled to rely on long-term residence as a valid ground for being allowed to stay.

Legal challenge

Mr James's solicitor, Tiki Emezie, said further representations would now be made to the Home Office on compassionate grounds and the fact that his client's circumstances had changed since the original deportation order was made.

A new legal challenge could be launched, based on the home secretary's response to those representations, if they were unsuccessful, Mr Emezie said.

Mr James started out on his own at the age of 15, taking a number of jobs, and obtaining a false National Insurance number. He then changed his name and embarked on his career, first as a freelance pensions adviser and then as a commodities broker earning more than 40,000 a year.

Later Mr James's constituency MP Tessa Jowell described his case as "tragic" and pledged further help, if the opportunity arose, in the battle to block his deportation.

The health minister said: "Following today's court judgment against him, if new evidence emerges I will be making further representations to the Home Office on his behalf."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Internet Links

Home Office

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online