After 42 Years in the UK, a Man Said He Wasn't British - Latest Global News

After 42 Years in the UK, a Man Said He Wasn’t British

A 74-year-old retired Ghanaian who has lived in the UK for almost 50 years will have to wait a decade before the Home Office grants him permanent residency.

Nelson Shardey, from Wallasey in the Wirral, had assumed for many years that he was officially considered British.

It was only in 2019 that he realized the opposite and, despite having paid taxes all his adult life, he now has to pay thousands of pounds to stay and use the NHS.

The Interior Ministry declined to comment on the ongoing legal case.

“Never asked”

Retired newsagent Shardey first came to the UK in 1977 to study accounting, on a student visa which also allowed him to work.

After a coup in his native Ghana, his family was no longer able to send him money to pay his fees.

He took a number of jobs making bread at Mother’s Pride and Kipling’s Cakes near Southampton and Bendick’s Chocolate in Winchester. No one has ever questioned his right to live or work in the UK.

He married a British woman and moved to Wallasey to run his own business, a newsagent called Nelson’s News.

When that marriage ended, he married another British woman and they had two sons, Jacob and Aaron.

“I tried my best to raise them as best as I could so that none of them would have to rely on welfare or anything like that,” Mr Shardey said.

He urged his sons to “study hard, get a good job and work for themselves,” and both went to university and then careers as research scientists and public relations managers.

Mr Shardey said he never left the UK as he saw no need to and considered it his home.

“No one questioned me. I bought all my things on credit, even the house.”

“I took out a mortgage. And no one questioned me about anything,” he said.

Mr Shardey served as a juror and received a police bravery award in 2007 after he ambushed a robber who was attacking a delivery man with a baseball bat.

Nelson Shardey receives a police bravery award

Nelson Shardey received his Police Bravery Award in 2007 [Nelson Shardey]

But when he applied for a passport in 2019 to return to Ghana after his mother died, he was told he was not British.

The Home Office said he had no right to be in the UK.

“I can’t afford to pay”

Officials told him to apply for the 10-year route to settlement, which is designed for people who want to move to the UK to work.

Over 10 years, access to the NHS costs around £7,000, and a further £10,500 over the same period.

“I can’t afford to pay any part of the money they are charging,” said Mr. Shardey, who is recovering from prostate cancer.

“Telling me to go down this path is a punishment and not fair in any way.”

“I don’t understand at all why this excitement, because I have put my whole life, my whole self into this country.”

When he tried to renew his UK residency online two years ago, he filled out the wrong form.

That meant the ten-year process had to start again in 2023.

As a result, Mr Shardey will not be allowed to remain permanently in the UK until he is 84 years old.

“I just thought it was a joke. It’s just ridiculous,” said his son Jacob, who researches cardiovascular physiology.

“Why would he start this 10-year career when he’s been here since 1977?

“He has been here longer than the people working on his case at the Home Office have been alive.”

“Extraordinary facts”

With the help of Nicola Burgess, a lawyer from the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU), Mr Shardey is now taking the Home Office to court.

His case – which his sons are trying to crowdfund – is that the Home Office should have treated him as an exception because of his long time in the UK and because of his bravery award and service to the community.

“We know that at least one caseworker has looked at his file and suggested that he be granted indefinite leave to remain based on exceptional facts,” Ms Burgess said.

“And if you look at it on a personal level, if Nelson were your friend or your neighbor, you would absolutely agree that he should be given the immediate right to settle.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”

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