Sierra Leonean hunger-strike journalist wins leave to remain in UK
James Fallah-Williams, who was facing deportation from the UK back to Sierra Leone, has won three years discretionary leave to remain according to the NUJ. (Photo: James Fallah Williams, front right, with members of charity RAPAR, which campaigned for his right to stay, photo credit : BAC Photography)
James, a journalist who carried out a 19-day hunger strike while fighting deportation from the UK has been granted leave to remain in the UK, according to the National Union of Journalists.
The union reported today that James Fallah-Williams, who is originally from Sierra Leone, won his campaign after being re-assessed by the Home Office and the UK Border Agency.
He has now reportedly been given three years discretionary leave to remain.
Fallah-Williams fled Sierra Leone during the civil war in 1995, first heading for Gambia before coming to England in 1997. He obtained a student visa before applying for asylum in 2008.
In April 2010, with no decision yet made on his application, he was reportedly granted permission to work, taking up a paid position with Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN). However, in October of the same year the UKBA revoked that right and weeks later informed him he had been unsuccessful in his asylum application.
At this point he says he was given 28 days to leave the country. According to the NUJ, Fallah-Williams feared for his safety if deported after writing articles critical of the political regime in Sierra Leone during his time in the UK.
Earlier this week the UKBA refused to comment of the facts of the case, but issued a statement to say the application was “carefully considered on its individual merits” and that it was reviewing the initial decision following further evidence submitted by Fallah-Williams.
Reporting Fallah-Williams’s victory today the NUJ said journalists in Manchester were celebrating the result.
“We are delighted James’s exhausting and worrying campaign to be allowed to live a normal life in the country he has made his home has now succeeded,” general secretary Michelle Stanistreet added.
“I am very proud that the work of Manchester NUJ members, in particular, has paid off for James. I hope he can now get back to living a full life as a valued member of the community.”
The UKBA had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.
By Rachel McAthy, journalists.co.uk
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