Saiful Islam finally wins his fight to stay in the UK

Ansar Ahmed Ullah
Contributing Editor,Shottobani

London: Saiful Islam, a Bengali chef, has been granted by the UK Home Office to live in Britain following a seventeen-year-long campaign. A letter dated 28 March addressed to his solicitors stated that he has been granted permission to stay in the United Kingdom (UK) on the private life route.

In 2003, Saiful Islam, aged 27, came to the UK from Bangladesh with a work permit visa to work as a chef for a Thai restaurant. In 2005 he contacted the police and the Home Office to inform them that his employer was exploiting him by withholding the bulk of his wages, forcing him to work 18-hour days, and beating him.

The Home Office allowed him to move to a different employer, but a catalogue of problems followed, resulting in him being threatened with removal from the UK. As he was approaching his work permit expiry date, he applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. Unfortunately, his application was refused because of errors made by the UK Home Office, which he pointed out to them. For example, the Home Office inaccurately recorded Saiful Islam was a registered sex offender. In addition, the Home Office incorrectly recorded that he had entered the UK unlawfully and as a result, had been served a curtailment notice in 2005.

Following a long-drawn battle in 2019, the Home Office admitted they had made serious errors and offered him initially £5000, plus another £1,000 as compensation, which he has refused to accept. As a result of the incorrect information, Saiful Islam was incorrectly refused Indefinite Leave to Remain following his application in 2011, which was upheld in the High Court and Court of Appeal on an incorrect basis because of the inaccurate facts put forward by the Home Office.

Saiful Islam’s MP took up his case to the House of Commons after receiving a negative response from the UK Home Office. In the meantime, his MP wrote directly to the British Home Secretary asking to intervene in the case as the Home Office made errors.

Despite all this, Home Office did not respond positively. But Saiful Islam did not give up. Alone on the streets of the UK with a loudhailer, he carried on protesting his innocence, sometimes in front of the British Parliament, sometimes in 10 Downing Street and sometimes in front of the Supreme Court. He continued to campaign to get his rights back. Attracted to his campaign, Prince Charles, now King, several MPs had written in to express their sympathy for him. He even took his case to the European Court of Justice after fighting in various courts in the United Kingdom. Now finally, his wish to remain in the UK has been granted.

When asked about his feeling about the Home Office’s decision he said, ‘If the Home Office hadn’t made a mistake, I wouldn’t have suffered for so many years. I knew I was innocent and had the right to remain in the UK. I am happy now but don’t want anybody else to suffer because of Home Office’s failure.’

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