Hunger strike journalist wins right to stay in UK

A journalist who went on a 23-day hunger strike to protest against his deportation to Sierra Leone has won his campaign to stay in the UK.

The National Union of Journalists today announced his case had been reassessed by the Home Office and the UK Border Agency, resulting in a three-year discretionary leave to remain.

After he has spent 14 years in the UK Farah Williams, who was given legal support and representation by the NUJ throughout the campaign, will be eligible to apply for permanent leave to remain.

Williams has lived, worked and studied in the UK since fleeing Sierra Leone during the country’s civil war in 1998, and since arriving has written articles critical of the country’s political regime.

This has allegedly led to threats being made against him, and he now fears for his safety if he was made to return to the country.

In October 2010 his work permit was revoked, which the union said was due to ‘bureaucratic errors”, and a further asylum application was also denied.

While awaiting a decision on his asylum claim he worked as a volunteer at the Leigh Community Integration Project, and has worked as an advice worker with Manchester Refugee Support Network.

On 1 August he began his hunger strike, which lasted until 23 August.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: ‘We are delighted James’s exhausting and worrying campaign to be allowed to live a normal life in the country he has made his home has now succeeded.

‘I am very proud that the work of Manchester NUJ members, in particular, has paid off for James. I hope he can now get back to living a full life as a valued member of the community.”

Earlier this month the NUJ helped win asylum status for Gambian journalist Alieu Ceesay, and in April it claimed success in a three-year battle to secure the same status for exiled Cameroonian journalist Charles Atangana.

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