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Home Office says man living in UK since 1977 can stay after all

Screenshot, Nelson Shardey (right), seen here with his son Jacob (left), won a police commendation for bravery.

  • Author, Judith Burns
  • Role, BBC News Home Affairs

A retired tradesman who was told he was not British despite having lived in the UK for almost 50 years can stay forever, the Home Office has decided.

Nelson Shardey, from Wallasey in Wirral, has lived in Britain since arriving as a student in 1977, but in 2019 he was told he did not have the right to live in the UK.

The 74-year-old, originally from Ghana, has now been granted indefinite leave to remain after the government said it recognised his case was “exceptional”.

More than £48,000 raised for his legal fight will be donated to charity, Shardey’s family said.

Award for bravery

Mr Shardey arrived in the UK on a student visa, but a coup in Ghana meant his family were unable to pay for his studies.

She took a number of jobs, including making Mother’s Pride bread and Kipling’s cakes near Southampton, and Bendick’s Chocolate in Winchester.

He said no one ever questioned his right to live or work in the UK.

He married a British woman and moved to Wallasey to run his own business, a newsagent called Nelson’s News.

When that marriage ended, he married another British woman and they had two sons, Jacob and Aaron.

Mr Shardey says he never left the UK because he saw no need to and considered it home.

But when he applied for a passport in 2019 so he could return to Ghana after his mother’s death, he was told he was not a British citizen.

Officials told her to apply for the 10-year settlement route which costs around £7,000, with a further £10,500 over the same period to access the NHS – sums Shardey had not initially expected to find.

His case against the Home Office argued that he should be treated as an exception because of his long residence in the UK, his bravery award and his service to the community.

The Home Office said the Immigration Act gave it discretion to grant Mr Shardey indefinite leave to remain outside normal immigration rules.

The application fee will also be waived.

Mr Shardey said he was “overwhelmed, very, very happy and relieved”.

“I want to thank everyone who believed in us and supported us with words and donations,” he said.

Mr Shardey added that although the “battle” has already been won, he and his supporters “hope to win the war, so that the authorities will accept that the 10-year route is inhumane and shorten or eliminate it”.

Screenshot, Nelson Shardey has lived and worked in the UK since 1977, when he arrived here on a student visa.

Shardey’s lawyer, Nicola Burgess of the Greater Manchester Immigration Advice Unit, said she was delighted with the decision.

“Nelson’s bravery in the face of a broken immigration system has been inspiring,” Ms Burgess said.

She urged the new government to simplify the system to prevent “many more” like Shardey being forced into “an endless cycle of applications, bureaucracy and costly fees”.

Shardey’s sons, Aaron and Jacob, said her win “means a lot to us.”

“We are so grateful to our legal team… and everyone who supported us… from sharing our story to donating, we can’t thank you enough,” they added.

The family will donate the money raised to three charities: The Boaz Trust, Clatterbridge Cancer Charity and Wirral Foodbank.

A Home Office spokesman said officials were working with Shardey to process his application for indefinite leave to remain.

“We apologize for any inconvenience or inconvenience caused,” the spokesperson added.

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