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Deportation of mother put on hold

Olya Merry faced being split from Scottish husband and two-year-old daughter after being threatened with deportation from her Coatbridge home.

The deportation case against a mother from Belarus has been put on hold following political intervention.

Volha Merry, known as Olya, had received a letter from the Home Office saying she could be deported if she did not leave the UK this week.

Mrs Merry, lives in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, with her husband Derek and their two-year-old daughter.

Earlier the 28-year-old said she had struggled to get permission to stay in the UK since she married Derek five years ago, and he said he was “terrified” of losing his family after receiving the letter.

Now Mr Merry said he is “delighted” a review of the case will be carried out, meaning no deportation can go ahead during while the review is underway.

He told BBC Scotland: “It’s great. We couldn’t be more delighted. It’s a step in the right direction.”

He added that it “gives us breathing space now to work on the next step”.

External affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop and local politicians contacted the Home Office calling for a review of the case.

Ms Hyslop wrote to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking for her to “look into the case as a matter of urgency”.

Labour MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, Hugh Gaffney, and SNP MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, Fulton MacGregor, also took up the case.

A spokesman for Mr Gaffney said: “After hearing from the family that there was a threat of deportation, I immediately contacted the Minister for Immigration’s office to ask for a review of Olya’s case.

“My staff and I have met with the family and discussed a variety of ways to keep Olya in the country, and the family together.

“I have since spoken with the Minister for Immigration’s office and had confirmation that there will now be a review carried out on Olya’s case. In the meantime no deportation can go ahead.”

Mr MacGregor welcomed the news and called on the Home Office to end plans to split up the family.

He said: “I’m delighted that, following the intervention of the Scottish Government, the Merry family have been handed a lifeline.

“It’s now time for the Home Office to end this ridiculous situation and stop trying to rip a young family apart. I will keep up the pressure on the UK government to do the right thing and to give Olya the right to stay.

“The heavy-handed approach by the UK government could see a young child, born in Scotland to a Scottish father, forced out of the country at the whims of immigration officials – that would be completely unacceptable.”

The couple previously lived in Ireland for almost six months, with Mr Merry saying the Home Office had advised them to make use of European freedom of movement rules.

They later relocated to Scotland when his wife fell pregnant.

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