UK court halts kidney-transplant patient’s deportation, and Colin Firth lends support

One arm of the state, the NHS, saves Roseline Akhalu's life. Another, the UK Border Agency, threatens to end it.

Eleven days ago I wrote here about kidney transplant patient Roseline Akhalu who was detained by the UK Border Agency on Wednesday 16 May and threatened with removal to Nigeria where, doctors warned, she would swiftly die, being unable to access or afford vital medical care.

Brighter news arrived yesterday. Rose was granted an injunction stalling her removal to Nigeria, she was released from detention, and Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth broke off from filming in Thailand to offer this statement:

“Few things are this straightforward: Rose is sick, if we don't help her she dies. The decision is entirely ours. I'm sure saving her won't compromise the government's enforced removal policy. This is an exceptional case.”

Rose faces a fresh hearing on 24 July, when she will seek permission for a full judicial review hearing.

Roseline’s is an extraordinary case. One arm of the state, the NHS, has saved her life. Another, the UK Border Agency, is threatening to end it.

She arrived in the UK in September 2004, a Ford Scholarship student on a student visa, to pursue a Masters Degree at Leeds University. Rose unexpectedly developed end stage renal failure in 2005 and remained on dialysis until she received a kidney transplant at St James Hospital, Leeds in July 2009.

Her renal specialist Dr James Tattershall says Roseline “will be on anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life.” About her threatened removal to Nigeria, he says:

"the drugs she needs aren't available to her there. Deportation will be a death sentence. In Nigeria most people with kidney disease such as Rose has, wouldn't receive any treatment and they would die.”

Tessa Gregory of Public Interest Lawyers, the solicitor who successfully challenged Rose’s removal yesterday, said:

“The Government’s treatment of Rose and the determination to deport her truly beggars belief. This is an exceptional case where the Home Secretary should clearly allow Rose to remain in the UK to receive the treatment she so desperately needs. To do otherwise is inhumane, unspeakably cruel and a profound insult to the person who donated their kidney in the hope of giving another life.”

Rose’s MP Greg Mulholland welcomed yesterday’s decision:

“It is great news that the judge today has seen sense and ordered a halt to Roseline’s deportation order . . . I will be writing to the Home Secretary to ask why, despite being granted an appeal hearing, the judge thought it acceptable to allow UKBA to continue harassing Roseline and continue to seek her deportation from the UK. As well as the distress caused, this has been a farce and has wasted considerable amounts of taxpayers’ money. The system clearly needs to be looked at so this cannot happen.”

OurKingdom published Roseline’s own account of how, during an earlier period of detention in March, the Border Agency’s commercial escort contractor Reliance refused her the use of a toilet, of how she had to urinate into a plastic bag in full view of a CCTV camera. For that ill-treatment, Public Interest Lawyers are pursuing a civil claim for damages against the Border Agency and Reliance — who took over the escorting contract last year from G4S.

An online petition to stop Rose’s deportation can be signed here: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-the-deportation-of-transplant-patient-roseline-ak.html

About the author

Esmé Madill, a consultant in the not for profit sector, works with Shpresa Programme and the Women's Therapy Centre.