Girl with autism at risk of deportation over accountancy errors

A four-and-a-half-year-old girl with autism, born in the UK and who cannot communicate, understand language or feed herself, could be deported to a country in which she risks attack and persecution.

Even the smallest change to the daily routine of Manha Majid triggers an extreme reaction that causes her to scream incessantly, stop sleeping and eating, and to keep her eyes closed for hours at a time.

Having spent more than two years building a support system involving the local authority, doctors and her school, her Pakistani parents fear for Manha’s life if they are deported.

“Manha will be at high risk of being attacked back home because she will be considered as less than human,” said her father, Majid Akhtar. “Autism is not understood at all in Pakistan. If we have to return to Pakistan and her life becomes unrecognisable to her, I can’t see how she will cope.”

Manha risks deportation with her parents because of two errors made by her father’s accountants in 2010-2011, and 2012-2013. The mistakes were noticed by the Home Office in 2016 when Akhtar, who has been in the UK since 2007, applied for indefinite leave to remain.

When alerted to his case, HMRC decided that Majid’s tax discrepancy required no investigation or penalty. Penalties are levied if errors are found to be due to a lack of “reasonable care” or are deliberate or have been concealed.

“I’m an IT guy. I was paying my accountants to understand my taxes,” said Akhtar. When the discrepancy was flagged by the Home Office, Akhtar hired a chartered accountant who confirmed that the previous accountants had made mistakes. Despite both Akhtar and his solicitor trying to find them, however, the original accountants have disappeared.

Akhtar has now been unable to work for two years and is liable to be deported at any time. He must regularly attend a reporting centre with his wife, a trip that takes more than five hours by public transport. He has spent about £20,000 unsuccessfully appealing against the Home Office’s decision and is now waiting for the decision of an appeal on human rights grounds.

“My wife is seriously depressed and I am distressed and disheartened,” he said. “I have lived in the UK for 11 years and not committed a single offence, not even a driving offence, and now I’m a criminal. I’m good for nothing.

 

 

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