WHAT A WAY TO TREAT SERVICE AND LOYALTY
Fijian-born soldier Isimeli Baleiwai fights to stay in
his two children, aged three and six
A Fijian man who served in the
British Army for 13 years is fighting to stay in the UK after being told he must
leave the country by 9 August.
Isimeli Baleiwai served in Afghanistan and Iraq, before leaving the Army in
June. He is married to a UK national.
But disciplinary action for a 2010 fight with a colleague means he is
considered to have a criminal record.
The Border Agency said applications for settlement by ex-forces personnel
were considered the same way as all others.
"This involves consideration of a range of factors including unspent
convictions, whether passed by military courts or resulting from police
involvement," a spokesperson said in a statement.
Lance Corporal Baleiwai - known as "Bale" - was born in Fiji but told the
BBC's Angus Crawford he now considered the UK his home. He is married to Kim - a
British national with whom he has two children, aged three and six.
The 32-year-old applied for British citizenship in March 2012 because he
planned to leave the Army. He left voluntarily on 15 June after 13 years'
Foreign and Commonwealth soldiers can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
after four years' service, and citizenship after five.
L/Cpl Baleiwai served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Iraq twice and once in
In 2011, his commanding officer said his performance was "of an exceptionally
high standard". L/Cpl Baleiwai was rated "an excellent junior NCO [non
commissioned officer]" who was "always leading from the front". "He is
charismatic, selfless and well-liked," the officer said.
I wasn't good enough to be a citizen of this country and
yet throughout those 13 years I've paid my taxes, I've served Queen and country
and I felt betrayed at this point”
But on 28 June 2012, L/Cpl Baleiwai heard that he had
been refused citizenship and would also be refused Indefinite Leave to Remain
because he had what the UK Border Agency (UKBA) classed as a criminal conviction
so was not of "good character". On 12 July he was informed by letter that he
must leave the country by 9 August.
L/Cpl Baleiwai said he had returned from Afghanistan "a mess", suffering from
flashbacks and drinking heavily.
"To me, there was nothing wrong - I was normal. But now that we've had time
to look back, everything was going wrong. The drinking was getting out of hand;
I was getting in a mess that I was struggling to get out of." L/Cpl Baleiwai
said that he then ended up brawling with his colleague.
Under changes in 2010 to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974,
disciplinary offences and crimes under military law automatically carry over
into civilian life. However, our correspondent said many disciplinary offences
in the military would not be offences in civilian life and the military process
lacked some of the checks and balances of civilian courts.
L/Cpl Baleiwai said that his fight lasted less than a minute and his
colleague suffered a broken filling. He pleaded guilty at the subsequent
disciplinary hearing before his commanding officer and was fined £1,000. He said
he had been offered a solicitor but waived his right because he just "wanted the
case to go away".
"To me as far as I understood it, that was it - that was the end of it," he
said. However, the incident is now preventing him from staying with his family
L/Cpl Baleiwai said that soldiers coming back from combat zones were likely
to be emotionally damaged as a result of serving Britain, and that the UKBA
should make allowances when considering their applications.
tours in Iraq, as well as serving in Afghanistan and Bosnia
"We're not going to be coming back of sound mind and good character because
of what we've been through - the trauma we've been through," he said. "People
who are making these rules, passing those laws, they don't understand what that
L/Cpl Baleiwai and his wife have written to their MP, the Home Office, Number
10, the Ministry of Defence, the Labour Party and former head of the Army Lord
Dannatt to try to get permission for him to stay. So far, they have had no
"I was proud to have served in the Army and for that 13 years service I was
seen as a British soldier but to the UK Border Agency, as soon as that uniform
comes off I'm no longer a British soldier, but just a foreign Commonwealth
person trying to reside in the UK," he said.
"But at this point I had a British family, I had a British wife - two kids
that are British - and I'd been given this letter saying that I wasn't good
enough. I wasn't good enough to be a citizen of this country and yet throughout
those 13 years I've paid my taxes, I've served Queen and country and I felt
Mrs Baleiwai said that the support the couple had received had reminded her
of why she was "proud to be British" but that what had happened to her husband
made her "feel ashamed".
"I want to fight this for my husband and my family because I believe it's
wrong - I've believe it's incompetent of the government to make these
decisions," she said.
Veterans Aid chief executive Dr Hugh Milroy said it seemed "completely
incredible" that L/Cpl Baleiwai was being barred from the UK because of his
"This is so minuscule as an incident, but the implications are massive," he
said. "This should have been done and dusted and gone."
The UKBA ( UK boarder agency) is a farce,and our government an even bigger one,
led by the nose by it's EU puppet masters it lacks the guts to ignore the courts and deport scum like Abu Quatada,wanted in his own country Jordan on terrorist charges
he is once again walking the streets here,living on benefits and has had the audacity to demand a bigger house for him and his family paid for by the taxpayer!!
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