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Windrush: Former boxer one of 83 wrongly refused entry to UK

WRONGLY REFUSED: Vernon Vanriel pictured back in his boxing days (left) and today (right)

A FORMER boxer and member of the Windrush Generation who has been stuck in Jamaica for 13 years has been told he can return to the UK.

Vernon Vanriel is currently penniless and living in a shack in western Jamaica.

He first came to the UK aged six with his mother in 1962 but after returning to Jamaica for a visit in 2005, he was refused re-entry to the UK, despite having lived in the country for 43 years and having left Jamaica when it was still a British colony.

Vanriel has now been identified as one of the 83 people that the British government concedes were deported or refused re-entry to the UK in error.

“If I ever end up accidentally going to hell, I’ll be well prepared for it from the experience I have had here. I have deteriorated to something unrecognisable. No amount of money can ever compensate me for what has happened, the loss of contact with my friends and family,” Vanriel told The Guardian.

Back in March, Vanriel made a public appeal for help.

Speaking to The Voice in Savanna-La-Mar, Jamaica, Vanriel said: "At one stage, I slept in Savanna-La-Mar hospital, I’ve slept on graves, tombstones, derelict buildings."

The father-of-three said: "It is soul destroying, when I look in the mirror and see what I’ve come to.”

Vanriel’s older sister Lynette has been providing some financial support to the 63-year-old.

She told The Guardian she was extremely disappointed in how the government has handled the situation.

She said: “His health has deteriorated. It’s just so unfair. When he travelled to Britain he was a British subject. Why is it so complicated for the government to understand that these people are British people?”

Vanriel said: “I’m not bitter or angry in any way. I don’t want to say anything derogatory. I love London and the people there with all of my heart. Obviously it has some shortcomings – they could have treated immigrants better. They have done wrong but they have also done a lot of good. Moving us there was the best thing my father ever did in his life. I learned the boxing, the electrical work and how to be a human being.”

Despite the news that he can legally return to the UK, Vanriel does not yet know how he is going to afford to travel back.

He said it had been suggested by a high commission official that a ticket might be arranged for him, but he has not received anything yet.

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