A DAD has won the battle to stop his two young children from being deported from Burnley to a South African children’s home.
Last week the Lancashire Telegraph reported the plight of Seth Tutt, and his five-year-old sister Leigh, who were brought here by their father Justin Tutt, 29, after the sudden death of their mother.
The children had been facing the prospect of deportation in four weeks when their holiday visa runs out, but Mr Tutt has now been told by the UK Border Agency that they can stay on five-year settlement visas, and after that period they can apply for permanent passports.
Mr Tutt said: “It is great news. The Lancashire Telegraph has been fantastic with the support they have given us and we are very grateful. The border agency have told us that they can stay on settlement visas for five years and they have agreed to waive some of the problems such as the fact I was not earning enough money.
“I now have to raise £991 to pay for the visa for each child and also get all the paperwork together, but I think I have everything that is required for the visa.
“The border agency have promised us that if we get the paperwork and the fee in place then the visas will be granted, they are going to use their discretion in this case.”
The children, who are attending St Mary’s RC Primary, were left living with their grandparents in a residential home in South Africa after their mother Deirdre Tutt, Justin’s wife, committed suicide in the South African town of Kimberley last May.
Mr Tutt, who lives in Briercliffe Road with his partner Clare Miles, 29, her daughter Kaitlyn, seven, and their eight-month-old son Jake, flew out to South Africa to bring them over on a three-month holiday visa.
He said he was certain that the children would be put into care if they were forced to return to South Africa as living with their grandparents was a temporary measure. He feared that in South African care homes the children were at high risk of being sexually abused or even killed.
He said: “We want to get the visas applied for as soon as possible now and get everything sorted as quickly as we can.
“We are arranging a fundraising event at Koko’s to try and raise enough to pay the fees for the visas, now that the border agency have said they will help us we want to get it all done quickly.
“It makes sense to get it done now while it is fresh in everybody’s mind.”
The fundraiser to help raise the £1,982 needed to pay the visa fees will take place at Koko’s on Saturday March 2, from 7pm, with £5 entry.
A local band will be performing at the evening and there will also be an auction and a raffle.
Mr Tutt’s case was backed by Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle and North West MEP Sajjad Karim who lives in Simonstone.
Mr Birtwistle said: “I am very pleased that the UK Border Agency have seen it right and will allow these two young children to stay, rather than being deported to a children’s home in South Africa.
“I am glad common sense has prevailed and I am pleased for Mr Tutt and his family.”
Mr Karim said: “I made a plea to the UK Border Agency on behalf of Mr Tutt after I became involved in the case through the Lancashire Telegraph.
“We said these were exceptional circumstances and that is what they are. I am delighted that this decision has been reached.”