A British Government minister was urged today to intervene in the case of an 'X Factor' reject who faces removal from the UK.
Labour MP Gordon Banks said Scottish Secretary Michael Moore should “bang heads together” and take a personal look at the situation faced by Gamu Nhengu, who is one of his constituents.
And the singer’s local MSP, Keith Brown of the SNP, condemned the “terrible situation” the teenager finds herself in and demanded answers from immigration officials.
The teenager, who was eliminated from the ITV show at the weekend despite being a huge hit with fans, must return to her native Zimbabwe, the UK Border Agency said.
Miss Nhengu, 18, was allowed to stay in the country as a dependant while her mother, Nokuthula Ngazana, studied at university.
But her visa has now expired and the family’s application to remain has been rejected as they did not meet British Home Office criteria. It was understood the family has now been told to leave the UK voluntarily or face deportation.
Mr Banks, MP for Ochil & South Perthshire, said the family has yet to be informed of any decision by the UK Border Agency and was “understandably distraught” by the situation.
He said: “I have spoken to the Border Agency today to find out what on earth is going on.
“There is some suggestion that there may be an administrative problem with the application so we need to get this mess cleared up.”
Mr Banks, who believes the family should be allowed to stay in Scotland, added: “As the local MP, I am ready to help in any way but Michael Moore is the man in charge and it is he who needs to bang heads together to sort this out.
“I have written to him today to ask him to support this case personally.”
Ochil MSP Mr Brown, who represents Miss Nhengu’s home town of Tillicoultry in Clackmannanshire, said of the young star: “I have known her for a number of years and heard her sing many times. She is the kind of hard working talent we should have in Scotland.
“Her mother has always been described to me as a model and hardworking student who is now serving as a nurse and if there are any problems over the family’s status we should work to resolve them, not see them sent away.
“UK immigration and the Home Office need to explain why a talented and hardworking family is facing this situation.
“I have offered my assistance to the family and I will be in touch with the Home Office to give my support to Gamu and her family staying in Scotland.”
The politicians’ comments came as online campaigns were launched to protest at Miss Nhengu’s proposed removal from the UK.
Scottish human rights campaigner Robina Qureshi today said Miss Nhengu should be allowed to remain in the UK.
Ms Qureshi, director of the charity Positive Action in Housing, said: “If this country stands for anything, then the immigration minister should overturn the decision – in the name of fairness.”
Miss Nhengu and her family do not have a right to appeal and the singer cannot apply separately to remain in this country.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said today: “The applications made by Ms Ngazana and her family were considered in line with the published immigration rules.
“Ms Ngazana’s application was refused as it did not meet all of the conditions for approval. Her family, who had applied as her dependants, were therefore also refused.
“Where people are found to have no right to remain in the UK, we expect them to leave voluntarily.”
Miss Nhengu’s controversial axeing from the 'X Factor' caused a storm among viewers.
So far, more than 220,000 fans have signed up to a Facebook page called Gamu Should Have Got Through, protesting at the decision by judge Cheryl Cole to leave Miss Nhengu out of the final 12.
At least one of the rejected contestants will be given a lifeline at the weekend as a “wild card” on Saturday night’s programme, although it is thought Miss Nhengu will not be among them.
Show bosses have already denied suggestions Cole had been influenced by visa issues.
A spokeswoman said: “We are supporting Gamu and her family during this difficult time.”