John Leech, Manchester Withington’s former MP of a decade, has launched a bid to secure the right to stay for ‘local hero’ Robert Chilowa after it was revealed he was just days away from being deported.
Mr. Leech, who famously once had a plane halted on the runway, a constituent removed from the aircraft and brought safely home after he had been unfairly deported, has now demanded that Mr. Chilowa is also granted permanent residence in Withington after he saved the lives of two children.
Mr. Chilowa, who dashed to the scene of a ferocious blaze engulfing a neighbour’s house after hearing screams of terror, rescued two young children from the flames that had already claimed the lives of their grandparents.
Despite braving the devastating fire on Parsonage Road in Withington to save the two children from a second-floor window, rightly garnering national headlines, he has now been threatened with deportation by authorities.
After meeting with the resident last week, the veteran politician wrote a strongly worded letter to the Home Office Secretary, Amber Rudd, demanding Mr. Chilowa’s residence to be made permanent. On Sunday morning Mr. Leech made his letter public, calling on others to pledge their support – by the end of the day more than 600 people had backed him.
The former Liberal Democrat MP said: “Unless you live and work here in Withington, you simply cannot appreciate just how much that fire rocked our community. Flowers from across the whole city piled up outside the family’s home; it was a deeply painful time for everyone locally.
“Especially with what’s happening with Brexit, we need to show that we are an open, tolerant and united country. Brutally deporting a hero is not the way to go about that.
“People like Robert make Manchester the thriving, diverse, international and world-class city it is today. We don’t want him leaving, we want him involved in our community.”
Mr. Chilowa received a letter from the Home Office last week informing him he had no right to stay and was to be deported back to Zimbabwe. Robert Chilowa has been seeking political asylum in Manchester from the despotic regime of Robert Mugabe.
The final hearing will be held next week to determine whether he can stay.