Leading Academic Wrongly Told To Leave UK In Home Office Bungle

25 August 2017, 13:30

A British history expert has told LBC how she was threatened with deportation by The Home Office despite living here for almost a decade.

EU national Dr Eva Johanna Holmberg has lived in the UK with her British husband for almost ten years as a visiting History professor at the Queen Mary University of London.

But that didn't stop the Finnish academic from being one of around 100 people faced with a shocking letter earlier this week giving her a one month deadline to leave the country or face deportation.

Dr Eva Johanna Holmberg
Dr Eva Johanna Holmberg. Picture: Queen Mary's University

Theresa May has since been forced to admit the Home Office made an “unfortunate error” when it mistakenly sent the letters, with calls now increasing for the government to reimburse those recepients who have spent thousands of pounds on unnecessary legal fees.

Holmberg told LBC's Nick Ferrari, “It happened roughly a week ago (when) I was working. I opened this unassuming envelope which contained a decison to remove you (sic) from the United Kingdom. Of course I was shocked. I knew that I had applied for this 'Qualified Person' certificate before and it was refused on technicalities. Well now it has come to light that it was refused on wrong grounds."

She continued, "The shocking thing was it said on the second page that I could be liable to detention if I did not leave the UK within a month. I had just renewed our lease. My whole career - being an acdemic who studies British history - is tied to my ability to stay here and do archival research and write books about this country.”

The correspondence from the Home Office said that if Dr Holmberg did not leave the country of her own accord the department would give “directions for [her] removal”. It added that she was “a person liable to be detained under the Immigration Act”.

Labour MP Karen Buck is one of a handful of public figures who has called for the money to be reimbursed. She said: “We know what mistakes occur in the best of systems but given how vulnerable people feel and how fraught the environment is at the moment, The Home Office can do better."