Home Office grants Springburn orphan the right to stay in UK permanently

A Springburn orphan who has lived under the threat of deportation for 10 years has been told he can stay permanently in the UK.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 11:50 am
Giorgi Kakava and his gran Ketino Baikhadze at the tree planted in his mum Sopio’s memory
Giorgi Kakava and his gran Ketino Baikhadze at the tree planted in his mum Sopio’s memory

Georgia-born Giorgi Kakava (13) is delighted and very relieved the Home Office has finally granted him the right to remain indefinitely.

However, was disappointed his grandmother, Ketino Baikhadze, has only been given 30-months leave to remain.

Giorgi, who is in S2 at Springburn Academy, arrived in the city when he was three, after his mum Sopio Baikhadze, fled to Glasgow in 2011 because she feared gangsters whom her late husband owed a debt to would either kill him or sell him to sex traffickers.

The 35-year-old, who worked as a freelance translator and spoke four languages, was awaiting the outcome of an appeal for asylum when she passed away after a long illness in early 2018.

The Church of Scotland has tirelessly campaigned for nearly three-and-a-half years to ensure that Giorgi and Ketino were not removed against their will.

The case was championed by Rev Brian Casey, minister of Springburn Parish Church, who lobbied the UK and Scottish governments and launched an online petition which attracted 92,650 signatures.

He conducted Sopio’s funeral along with Father John McGrath of nearby St Aloysius Church and it was her dying wish that her son grow up a “Scottish boy”.

Former Glasgow North-East MP turned MSP, Paul Sweeney, raised the case in the House of Commons and the then Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a Home Office review.

Bob Doris, MSP for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, brought Giorgi’s plight to the attention of the Scottish Parliament and secured the support of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Home Office granted the teenager and his grandmother leave to remain in the UK for 30-months in July, 2018 and their permits expired in December last year, once again leaving them facing an uncertain future.

The Church highlight the family’s plight - a move which led to more signatures and representations directly made to Home Secretary, Priti Patel.

Giorgi said: “It is good news because Glasgow is my home, I feel Scottish and if I moved to Georgia it would be tough without all my friends.

"I have felt stressed because it has always been in the back of my mind that something could go wrong, but I was not scared because I have had people behind me.

“I would like to thank everyone who signed the petition and all those who have supported me.

“People in Springburn have been by my side helping throughout all of this, they are very kind and I will always be grateful.

“But the decision is very unfair on my nan because we are very close and I do not know what I would do if she was sent away.”

The Rev Casey added: “It has been a long fight, but it would have been criminal to send him back to a country that he doesn’t know and could be in danger.

“But it does seem wrong that his gran, who is his guardian, will have to go through this whole protracted process again – it would be a travesty if they are split up.”