X Factor reject Gamu Nhengu and family to appeal against deportation
The lawyer representing X Factor reject Gamu Nhengu and her family has announced that she will appeal against plans to deport them.
Published: 6:30AM BST 08 Oct 2010
The 18-year-old singer, who was eliminated from the ITV show at the weekend, has been told she must return to her homeland of Zimbabwe after her mother's visa application was turned down.
But their solicitor, Frances Farrell, said she was preparing to lodge an appeal to an immigration tribunal.
She said: “My client has lived here for eight years, always legally and on proper visas.
“I'm now certain there is grounds to put in an appeal.”
Nhengu's mother, Nokuthula Ngazana, was allowed to stay in the UK while she studied at university and her daughter was told she could also stay as her dependent.
But Ms Ngazana's application to remain in the country was turned down following allegations that she wrongly claimed working tax credits.
She was told her family did not have a right of appeal and must leave the UK by their own accord or face deportation.
Ms Farrell said the Ngazana, a nurse ''strongly refuted'' the allegations. She said her client had been told by the Inland Revenue that she was entitled to claim the benefit as she was paying taxes.
Nhengu's controversial axing from the X Factor last weekend caused a storm among viewers, with more than 240,000 fans signing up to a Facebook page called Gamu Should Have Got Through, in protest at judge Cheryl Cole's decision to leave Nhengu out of the final 12.
One fan, Andy Grant, wrote: “This country needs more people like Gamu and her family who want to work hard to make better lives for themselves.”
Show bosses have already denied suggestions Cole was influenced by visa issues. A spokeswoman said: “We are supporting Gamu and her family during this difficult time.”
Fans have also started a petition calling on the Government to “reconsider the deportation of Gamu Nhengu and her family”.
More than 1,300 people have signed it since it was set up yesterday.
Politicians who represent the Tillicoultry area of Clackmannanshire, where the family live, have also called for them to be allowed to remain.
Yesterday, Labour MP Gordon Banks demanded Scottish Secretary Michael Moore should “bang heads together” and look at the situation faced by Nhengu.
Ochil MSP Keith Brown, whose constituency includes Tillicoultry, also intervened. He said of the young star: “I have known her for a number of years and heard her sing many times. She is the kind of hardworking talent we should have in Scotland.
“Her mother has always been described to me as a model and hardworking student who is now serving as a nurse, and if there are any problems over the family's status we should work to resolve them, not see them sent away.
“UK immigration and the Home Office need to explain why a talented and hardworking family is facing this situation.”
Support was growing for Nhengu where she lives in Clackmannanshire.
On Thursday, a woman handed in 100 cash to security staff who are now at the modest flat.
She also left a Susan Boyle CD, a loaf of bread and milk on the doorstep, and scattered bird seed.
A letter of support from the woman said that in Scotland “we feed our little sparrows”, and appealed to the powers in London not to deport the teenager.
The letter said: “She is a giver not a taker.”
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “The applications made by Ms Ngazana and her family were considered in line with the published immigration rules.
“Ms Ngazana's application was refused as it did not meet all of the conditions for approval. Her family, who had applied as her dependants, were therefore also refused.
“Where people are found to have no right to remain in the UK, we expect them to leave voluntarily.”
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