A VICAR has accused the Government of ‘immigration paranoia’ after his charity worker friends were banned from visiting Britain.

The Rev Andy Lindop, rector of the Ramsbottom and Edenfield team ministry, has been friends with Hansi and Kath Jain since the met 35 years ago while on missionary work in India.

Mrs Jain and her daughter Anu run a school teaching children who live in the slums of Nagpur, India.

Several churches in England support the school and every four or five years the Jains visit Britain to keep in touch with friends and raise awareness of their work.

But a visit planned for this month had to be cancelled after the UK Border Agency turned down a visa application from the couple.

The agency was not satisfied that the Jains intended to leave the UK at the end of their visit or that they could afford the trip, despite written assurances from Mr Lindop that he would guarantee their costs.

They say that the Jains have not provided enough information of their personal and financial circumstances, and that Mr Lindop has not supplied information to prove that he could afford to shoulder their costs.

He said: “I am incensed. They are my friends and have been coming to Britain for years. Their life and work are in India and they have always gone home.

“There is no reason for them not to.

“It seems to me that the Government has become so paranoid about illegal immigrants that it now refuses tourist visas to visitors like Kath and Anu.

“If you are rich you are welcome to come here, but if you are not, you can’t.

“This is a ridiculous decision and I am extremely hurt that my Government should question my integrity as well as showing such an inhospitable attitude.”

Mr Lindop is chairman of the Jains’ charity, Friends of the Inheritors, and fears that the visa bad could adversely affect fundraising.

He has now written to Bury North MP David Nuttall hoping to get his support to overturn the visa decision.

Mr Nuttall said: “I feel sorry for this couple because they have visited before, but I will help them to fill in the necessary forms next time.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.

“All applications are considered on their individual merits and according to the evidence provided.