A Nigerian man living in the UK illegally has been spared deportation due to his relationship with his step-daughter.
The unnamed man is reported to have entered the UK illegally in 1998, eventually claiming asylum in 2006. In 2009, he married a British woman but was convicted of handling goods later the same year, receiving an 18 month sentence. Having refused his claim for asylum, the Home Office ordered his deportation in October 2010.
The man challenged the deportation order before the first tier immigration tribunal. His claim was dismissed so he appealed to the upper immigration tribunal, this time with more success. The upper tribunal ruled his favour, saying he could stay in the UK because he had a strong relationship with his stepdaughter. She was not involved with her biological father, the tribunal heard, and it was in her “best interests”, they concluded, for her to have a “de facto father as she grows up”.
Home Secretary Theresa May appealed that decision but the Court of Appeal once more ruled in the man’s favour, saying that the girl’s interests were the decisive factor.
Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson said the man had married “at a time when it was known by all concerned that his immigration status was precarious and probably at a time when he had already been charged [with handling stolen goods]”.
“[The tribunal] conducted a meticulous assessment of the factors weighing in favour of deportation and those weighing against. As they said, the factors in favour of deportation were substantial. They properly gave significant weight to the serious view taken by the Secretary of State of [his] criminality and his poor immigration history. On the other hand, they attached considerable importance to the interests of [the girl]. The decision was finely balanced.”
Home Office officials had admitted that it would not be reasonable to expect the girl and her mother to move to Nigeria, he noted.
Lord Dyson continued:
“[The tribunal] they did not take into account any irrelevant factors and they did not fail to take into account any relevant factors. In these circumstances, the upper tribunal were entitled to strike the balance in favour of [the man]. We can find no basis for interfering with their decision.”