John Leech, Manchester Withington’s former MP for a decade, has launched a bid to secure the right to stay for ‘local hero’ Robert Chilowa after it was revealed he was just days away from being deported.
Mr. Leech, who famously once had a plane halted on the runway, a constituent removed from the aircraft and brought safely home after he had been unfairly deported, has now demanded that Mr. Chilowa is also granted permanent residence in Withington after he saved the lives of two children.
Mr. Chilowa, who dashed to the scene of a ferocious blaze engulfing a neighbour’s house after hearing screams of terror, rescued two young children from the flames that had already claimed the lives of their grandparents. Despite braving the devastating fire on Parsonage Road in Withington to save the two children from a second-floor window, rightly garnering national headlines, he has now been threatened with deportation by authorities.
But John Leech, Withington’s former MP of ten years, has launched a bid to grant Mr. Chilowa permanent residence, hitting out at his recent treatment as ‘shocking.’
After meeting with the resident, the veteran politician has written a strongly worded letter to the Home Office Secretary, Amber Rudd, demanding Mr. Chilowa’s residence to be made permanent. He also publicly signed the petition to save the failed asylum seeker, and called on others to follow suit, saying this is of ‘national significance.’
The former Liberal Democrat MP said: “Unless you live and work here in Withington, you simply cannot appreciate just how much that fire rocked our community. Flowers from across the whole city piled up outside the family’s home; it was a deeply painful time for everyone locally.
“Especially with what’s happening with Brexit, we need to show that we are an open, tolerant and united country. Brutally deporting a hero is not the way to go about that.
“People like Robert make Manchester the thriving, diverse, international and world-class city it is today. We don’t want him leaving, we want him involved in our community.”
In a strongly worded open letter, which can be read here, to the Home Secretary, Mr. Leech, penned: “This man’s heroic efforts were the only saving grace in an otherwise tragic event. He is a true local hero; it’s that simple, and he should be allowed to continue living here, yet his subsequent treatment has been gravely unfair. Whilst the family mourns, this Government, instead of lauding and thanking him, is deporting him – what kind of message would it send out if he were to be forced to leave the U.K.?
“Manchester is a diverse, welcoming and tolerant community and I know that every single person here is ready to welcome Robert with open arms.”
In a further direct and passionate appeal to the Government, Leech pleaded with the Home Secretary: “Deporting Mr. Chilowa would be an act of gross injustice, critically undermining our sense of humanity and our commitment to inclusion and tolerance.
“I urge you to show compassion in this case, and allow Mr Chilowa to remain here in the U.K.”
Mr. Chilowa received a letter from the Home Office last week informing him he had no right to stay and was to be deported back to Zimbabwe. Robert Chilowa has been seeking political asylum in Manchester from the despotic regime of Robert Mugabe.
Jeff Smith, known locally as the ‘Absentee MP’, has failed to take any action.
Following Mr Leech’s intervention and a series of supported appeals, an extension on the deportation deadline was granted, and a final hearing will be held next week to determine whether he can stay.