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Duncan Lewis Immigration Solicitor Vinita Templeton states in an interview to the BBC that Filipino Veteran’s detention and removal may be unlawful (15 November 2013)

Date: 15/11/2013
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Duncan Lewis Immigration Solicitor Vinita Templeton states in an interview to the BBC that Filipino Veteran’s detention and removal may be unlawful

The interview, which aired last night on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire program was in regard to the widely publicised case of a Fijan Soldier, who has served in the British Army for nine years, who faces removal on Sunday due to a "simple administration error".

Private Filimone Lacanivalu signed up to the British Army in 2001 and has served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Afghanistan, and left the 2nd Battalion in 2010.

After "mistakenly" believing that Commonwealth troops automatically qualified to remain in Britain after serving more than four years in the military, Lacanivalu failed to apply to the Home Office within 28 days of leaving the Army, consequently missing the paperwork’s deadline date.

As a result, Pte Lacanivalu has spent a month detained by the UK Border Agency in an immigration removal centre at Harmondsworth, hear Heathrow, awaiting deportation on Sunday 17th November. He is held in the centre among criminals guilty of murder, rape and drug dealing.

In the BBC interview, aired last night on the Victoria Derbyshire program he said that his plight is “confusing, sad and depressing”.

He said, “I never dreamt that this is the place I would end up(...) I have been let down. I have been betrayed.”

He then made a plea to Prime Minister David Cameron: “Please take account of my military service and what I have done for Great Britain. Release me from here and I will continue my life as usual.”

The case of Pte Lacanivalu once again brings to light accusations the Government’s “abandoning” of the military.

Pte Lacanivalu’s case stands at odds with Mr Cameron’s pledge to uphold the Military Covenant, society’s duty of care to serviceman.

Pte Lacanivalu served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the Falklands and deployed on two fierce tours of fighting in Afghanistan, where he said, “that was the first time for me to see people getting wounded and killed”.

He left the forces in January 2012 but received several months later documents issued from the Army informing him that he should have applied for residency within 28 days of his leave.

He claimed that he was not formed of any such requirement while he was serving in the Army.

He hired a solicitor to issue a belated application to remain in Britain, but was informed in September of the rejection of his application.

On October 12th he then went to a Home Office centre in Croydon, South London, in a bid to resolve the situation, but was detained without being allowed to return to his flat to collect his belongings.

Now, legal aid solicitors Duncan Lewis’ Vinita Templeton, an immigration solicitor with the firm, is planning to launch judicial review action against his detention. This would include an application to block Pte Lacanivalu’s imminent deportation.

Vinita said in the interview; “He is being detained unlawfully and that’s a fact. The Home Office should not be treating this man as an illegal individual.”

“Home Office policy makes it very clear that even if somebody having left the army and has not put in an application within the 28 day period, at the time when it comes to the notice of the Home Office, they should grant a period of relief in order to make an application to prove themselves within the rules and the policy states expressly that they should not be treated as illegal.”

Listen to Vinita and Filimone’s interview on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire radio program by clicking here.

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