Film star backs Leeds ‘deported to die’ woman

Colin Firth.
Colin Firth.
Have your say

Oscar-Winning actor Colin Firth broke off filming with Woody Allen in France this week to lend his support to a Leeds kidney transplant patient who has been told by medics she faces certain death if she is forcibly returned to Nigeria.

The star joined the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, MP Greg Mulholland and an army of supporters to call for the courts to finally end the long-running saga of Rose Akhalu’s fate.

Mrs Akhalu, 49, who lives in Headingley, was diagnosed with acute kidney disease in 2005, months after arriving in the UK to study for a masters degree at Leeds University. She eventually received a transplant on the NHS but has been told by the Home Office she must leave, despite two appeal judges already finding in her favour. On Thursday, Mrs Akhalu faces another appeal hearing in London.

Churches across Leeds are organising prayers for Rose at 2pm on Thursday, when she will be appearing before two immigration judges.

A coach full of supporters will travel from Leeds to London with her. A candle-lit vigil will be held outside the court. Mr Firth told Rose’s campaign supporters this week: “I need hardly add my voice to the wholehearted love and support surrounding Rose in her community and among her friends.

“We all hope that the good sense and humanity displayed so far by the courts will now prevail and that her life will be saved.”

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, said: “My prayers are with Rose, who faces death from her illness if she is forced to return to Nigeria.

“I pray that the court will affirm her right to remain.”

Mrs Akhalu’s lawyer, Tessa Gregory, said: “In truth, we should not be having to go through another appeal and Rose should have been left to get on with her life.”