A Home Office decision to deport 92 year old widow has sparked public outcry.
Myrtle Cothill is unable to care for herself and was hoping to stay in the UK with her daughter, but instead has been ordered to return to her native South Africa.
Update: Following the massive public outcry Myrtle has won a “stay of execution” after the Home Office cancelled a planned deportation
According to the Guardian, immigration enforcement officials had booked Cothill on a Virgin flight to Johannesburg on Tuesday night but rang her lawyers late on Friday to say her booking had been cancelled. It is understood the Home Office has postponed the deportation to give the family more time to prove their claims that Cothill’s poor health means she is unfit to travel and care for herself in South Africa.
The decision gives the family “breathing space”, said their barrister, Jan Doerfel.
Over 54,000 people have signed a petition calling for the elderly woman, whose father fought for Britain in WW1, to be allowed to stay in the UK. Nonetheless, Myrtle has been ordered to turn up at Heathrow next week on Tuesday to catch a flight to South Africa, where she has no relatives, and no one to take care of her.
Myrtle cannot walk unaided, has an enlarged heart and poor vision. She has been living in Dorset, with her 66-year-old British daughter Mary Wills, a qualified carer, since her arrival in Britain in February 2014.
“My mother just cannot live on her own,” Mary wrote in a statement on the change.org petition, “and emotionally, to her as well as for myself, it would really tear strips out of our heart and probably would kill my mother (and maybe myself as well).”
— Lions led by Donkeys (@Lionsanddonkeys) February 18, 2016
Mary Wills told the Guardian that officials insist her mother should return to South Africa and seek help from the Red Cross there. They told her that the government would pay for the elderly woman’s flight, and reportedly promised to give her “£1,000 to tide her over.”
“The thing is my mother gets a private pension from my late father so she wouldn’t qualify for assistance from the Red Cross. But really that is beside the point. She should be with her family,” Wills told the Guardian.
“If she doesn’t go to the airport on Tuesday, they will probably come here and remove her and take her to detention center. That will be signing her death certificate,” she added.
Neither Mary, nor her 61-year-old British husband David, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, can move to South Africa to look after Myrtle as they, among other things, have no right to live in South Africa.
Myrtle has fought a battle to stay with her daughter in Poole since last year. The Home Office informed the family in December that Cothill’s application had been rejected as her “condition was not deemed to be life-threatening” and that “suitable medical treatment” was available in her country of origin, the Guardian reported.
92 year old Myrtle Cothill to be deported on Tuesday back to South Africa , she’s in poor health suffering with COPD.UK government shamefull
— Richard Smith (@Richard03799135) February 18, 2016
The upper tribunal also rejected an application for leave to the court of appeal in October 2015. It alleged that Cothill had “obtained entry to the United Kingdom by deception, and that she and her daughter arranged their affairs with the deliberate intention of making her removal difficult.”
Former Conservative Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe has called for Myrtle Cothill, who was born under the British flag in 1924, to be allowed to stay in Britain.
“It is brutal beyond belief and I am deeply ashamed that a Conservative Government is doing this,” she told the Press Association, adding that the woman is “extremely frail.”