Former X Factor contestant Gamu Nhengu and her family have won an immigration battle allowing them to stay in the United Kingdom.
The Home Office failed in an appeal to overturn a decision granting the Zimbabwean family leave to remain in the country.
The 19-year-old singer was propelled into the public consciousness in autumn 2010 after making it to the judges’ houses stage of The X Factor as one of Cheryl Cole’s girls. However, controversy reigned after the young singer was ditched from the competition before the live finals in favour of Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel – considered by many to be less accomplished performers.
At the same time it emerged that Gamu’s mother, Nokuthula Ngazana, had had her visa renewal – on which the whole family relied to stay in the UK – turned down, prompting speculation that Gamu’s exit was connected to the issue. X Factor officials denied the visa situation had been part of Cheryl Cole’s decision – and later Simon Cowell publicly supported Gamu and her family’s plea to stay in the country.
He said at the time: “We are helping Gamu and her family as
much as possible and have lawyers working with her lawyers. It’s not because we have to but because I really feel for their
situation, and that’s outside of the show.”
The Home Office had accused Gamu’s mother of wrongly claiming working tax credits while also performing nursing duties during the eight years that she and her family had lived in Scotland. The family have repeatedly denied these allegations.
In February Nokuthula Ngazana, Gamu and her two brothers were denied leave to remain in the UK, but the decision was later overturned in an appeal.
The family’s lawyer, Francis Farrell, said: “The Home Office has a last resort appeal right to the Court of Session, but I hope they respect the judgement made today.
“My client has been granted leave to remain in the UK so now she and her family are able to get on with their lives and put this behind them.”
A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the court’s decision in this case and will be looking closely at the judgement.
“The UK Border Agency considers every case carefully and where we do not believe someone has the right to stay in the country, and they do not require our protection, we expect them to return home.”