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

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A retired shopkeeper who was told he was not British despite living in the UK for nearly 50 years can stay for good, 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 had no 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 towards his legal fight would be donated to charity, Mr Shardey’s family said.

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

He took on various jobs, including making Mother’s Pride bread and Kipling’s Cakes near Southampton, and Bendick’s Chocolate in Winchester.

He said no-one ever queried 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, as he saw no need to and regarded it as his home.

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

Officials told him to apply for the 10-year route to settlement which costs about £7,000, with a further £10,500 over the same period to access the NHS – sums Mr Shardey initially despaired of finding.

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

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

It will also waive the application fee.

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

“I would like to thank everybody who believed in us and supported us in words and donations,” he said.

Mr Shardey added while the “battle” was won, he and his supporters “hope to win the war, for the authorities to agree that the 10-year route is inhuman and abolish it or shorten it”.

Mr Shardey’s lawyer, Nicola Burgess of Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, said she was thrilled at the decision.

“Nelson’s bravery in the face of dysfunctional immigration system has been inspirational,” said Ms Burgess.

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

Mr Shardey’s sons, Aaron and Jacob, said his victory “means the absolute world to us”.

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

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

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

“We apologise for any inconvenience and distress caused,” the spokesperson added.

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