A retired newsagent who came to the UK on a student visa nearly 50 years ago could face deportation after being told by the Home Office that he is not a British citizen.

Nelson Shardey, 74, came to Britain from Ghana in 1977 to study accountancy and stayed in the country ever since, building a family, business and life in the UK.

Mr Shardey, of Wallasey in Wirral, assumed he was officially seen as British until 2019 when he tried to apply for a British passport and was told he did not have official leave to remain in the UK.

He now faces having to pay thousands of pounds to remain in the UK and use the NHS, despite paying taxes all his adult life.

Mr Shardey, who is recovering from prostate cancer, said he ‘cannot afford’ to pay the fees and feels that being forced to go through the 10-year route to settlement is ‘punishment’ and ‘not fair in any way’.

Mr Shardey first moved to the UK to study accountancy on a student visa which enabled him to work.

But after a coup in Ghana, his family was no longer able to send him money for school fees so he entered the workforce.

He undertook a range of jobs such as making Mother’s Pride bread and Kipling’s Cakes near Southampton, and claimed no one ever questioned his right to work or live in the UK.

He moved to Wallasey to open his own business, Nelson’s News, after marrying a British citizen.

When his first marriage ended, Mr Shardey married another British woman, with whom he shares two sons – Jacob and Aaron.

Mr Shardey told the BBC he never left the UK as he considered it his home.

‘Nobody questioned me. I bought all my things on credit, even the house,’ he said. ‘I got a mortgage. And nobody questioned me about anything.’

In 2019 the father applied for a passport so he could go to Ghana following his mother’s death, but told he was not British and had no right to be in the UK.

The retired newsagent said officials urged him to apply for the 10-year route to settlement.

It reportedly costs about £7,000 over the 10 years, with an additional £10,500 over the same period to access the NHS.

‘I cannot afford to pay any part of the money they are asking,’ said Mr Shardey, adding that ‘telling me to go through that route is a punishment’.

Mr Shardey, who says ‘I put my life, my whole self into this country’, tried to extend his right to stay in the UK two years ago, but filled out the wrong form online. This resulted in the 10-year process starting over again in 2023.

The father is now taking the Home Office to court with the help of Nicola Burgess, a lawyer at Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU).

A Home Office spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘It would be inappropriate to comment on active legal proceedings.’

Mr Shardey said he found his ‘family’ in Britain and decided to make it his home because he felt ‘so welcome and everyone appreciated me and everyone was so friendly’.

The retired newsagent was described as a ‘local legend’ and given a police award for bravery in 2007 after tackling a robber who was attacking a delivery man with a baseball bat.

The community in Seacombe also rallied behind him after he was burgled in 2013, The Liverpool Echo reported.

‘It was like a family here. It was really great,’ he told the newspaper of his life in the UK. ‘They behaved like human beings, no difference irrespective of colour. They welcomed me, invited me to parties, everything.’


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