CHURCHGOERS have expressed their dismay after a popular member of their congregation lost the latest round of a long-running immigration battle.

Nigerian-born Richard Aboro, 42, has been a regular worshipper at Sacred Heart, in Darwen, for a number of years.

He was convicted in 2012 of entering the UK using a false British passport, in 2012, and jailed for 12 months.

But he claimed asylum shortly after, insisting his safety would be in jeopardy if he was forced to return home. He was served with a deportation notice in July.

His prison term was followed by a brief stay in immigration detention, but he was bailed by a High Court tribunal, on condition he reported regularly to Blackburn police station and wore an electronic tag.

Lawyers for Mr Aboro then made several unsuccessful applications for asylum before, in July 2016, the Home Office arranged a flight to Nigeria for those eligible to be removed from the UK.

Before he could be issued with emergency travel documents, the National Immigration Service (NIS) says it was required to interview him, so he was arrested at his home.

He was even taken to Stansted Airport, to await departure, but was later returned to an immigration removal centre.

Questions arose surrounding his fitness to fly and in the end no travel documents were supplied by the Nigerian High Commission so Mr Aboro was not eventually removed.

His legal team then petitioned the Home Office for his release, the court heard. He was released three months later.

An appeal was lodged with the High Court, saying he still feared the consequences of a return to Nigeria, his immigration detention was unlawful and that he could not be removed pending his claim being properly dealt with.

Law lords dismissed those grounds but allowed a new hearing on the question of whether he was on the tribunal’s bail or immigration bail.

Sonali Naik QC, representing Mr Aboro, said the detention by the NIS was unlawful, because he was still on immigration officer bail and was not liable to be detained for the purposes of the interview.

Bail could also have been varied, added Ms Naik, to requires his attendance for questioning, as it was feared he may not attend, but no such provisions were made.

Rejecting the last ground though, Lord Justice Hamblen said there was no reason to suggest the Home Office had not acted “with due diligence” in attempting to secure the deportation.

Father Brian Kealey, parish priest, said after the ruling: "Richard is a valued member of of our church community who has served the people of the parish well and is a popular contributor to all that we do.

"I am saddened to hear that we have reached another stage in the long history of his deportation and his problems with the immigration department. He has returned to us before and we hope he will return again."

His friends at the church are now waiting to hear if another appeal can be lodged or whether he will now finally be deported.