Fijian soldier who served in the British army for nine years faces deportation after simple mistake over paperwork

  • Private Filimone Lacanivalu signed up to the army in 2001
  • He served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Afghanistan
  • But he failed to submit papers to the Home Office when he left the army
  • Pte Lacanivalu is now being held in a detention centre close to Heathrow
  • He will be deported on Sunday, but has issued a plea to David Cameron

By Ian Drury


A Fijian soldier who moved to the UK after serving in the British Army for nine years faces deportation on Sunday because of a simple administrative blunder.

Private Filimone Lacanivalu, who served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the Falklands and Afghanistan, left  the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment in 2010.

Mistakenly believing Commonwealth troops automatically  qualified to remain in Britain after more than four years in the military, he failed to apply to the Home Office for residency within 28 days of leaving the Army and missed the paperwork’s deadline.

Years of service: Filimon Lacanialu, left, is pictured on patrol in the Falkland Islands

Years of service: Filimon Lacanialu, left, is pictured on patrol in the Falkland Islands

Now Pte Lacanivalu, 34, has spent a month detained by the UK Border Agency in an immigration removal centre at Harmondsworth, near Heathrow, awaiting deportation on Sunday. Others held at the centre include murderers, rapists and drug dealers.

Last night he said he felt ‘betrayed’ by Britain. He said: ‘It is confusing, sad and depressing.

‘I never dreamt that this is the place that I would end up... I have been let down. I have been betrayed.’


In a plea to Prime Minister David Cameron, he said: ‘Please take account of my military service and what I have done for Great Britain. Release me from here and I will continue my life as usual.’

Pte Lacanivalu’s case has left the Government accused once again of ‘abandoning’ the military, following round after round of spending cuts.

It comes after the furore over Fiji-born Lance Corporal Bale Baleiwai, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, who was threatened with deportation because he was disciplined by his commanding officer for a fight with a colleague in 2010.

Following an outcry, he was granted an 11th hour reprieve.

Campaigners for Pte Lacanivalu will contrast his case with that of foreigners who have been allowed to stay in Britain despite awful crimes, such as Iraqi Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, who left a girl of 12 to die under the wheels of his car.

His case also appears at odds with Mr Cameron’s pledge to uphold the Military Covenant, society’s duty of care to servicemen.

Pleae: Pte Lacanivalu has begged the Prime Minister to intervene and let him stay in the country because of his military service

Pleae: Pte Lacanivalu has begged the Prime Minister to intervene and let him stay in the country because of his military service

Pte Lacanivale, whose uncles served in the Army, including one who fought with the Parachute Regiment in the Falklands, signed up with 2 YORKS in 2001 after seeing photographs of ceremonial parades at Buckingham Palace.

He served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the Falklands and deployed on two tours of fierce fighting in Afghanistan.

He said: ‘That was the first time for me to see people getting wounded and killed.’

He left the Forces in January 2010 but several months later received documents from the Army informing him he should have applied for residency within 28 days.

The soldier claimed he was not told of this requirement while in the Army.

He hired a solicitor to issue a belated application to remain in Britain but he was informed in September he had been rejected.

On October 12 he went to a Home Office centre in Croydon, South London, hoping to resolve the situation but he was detained without being allowed to return to his flat to collect his belongings.

Now Vinita Templeton, a solicitor with law firm Duncan Lewis, is planning to launch a judicial review action against his detention, which would include an application to block Pte Lacanivalu’s imminent deportation.

Ian Sadler, the father of Trooper Jack Sadler, killed in Afghanistan while Pte Lacanivalu was on the frontline, said he was ‘dismayed’ by the situation.

He said: ‘He should be put up in a hotel and a civil servant should straighten this out.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Mr Lacanivalu applied to stay in the UK outside of the period.

However, due to his service with the Army his case is now under review.’

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Bloody terrorists they can't (or won't) deport. Yet this man who deserves the best we can give him is kicked out. Civil Servants? They want their asses kicked.

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Typical UK Border Farce (similar to the police farce) go for the easy target. Make the UK Border Farce all ex-military and these things won't happen.

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And they are letting in all these work shy eastern Europeans in. No more brains left in this Country.

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That expression on Cameron's face - it represents so much of what has gone wrong in Britain even if it isn't directly bios fault.

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How come a non UK national served with the Brtiish forces? My British born son is having difficulty trying to enter the British Forces because he has lived abroad since the age of 3. Here in France, non French nationals cannot serve in the French forces, nor join the Police or Gendarmes

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I suggest deporting Jack Straw, David Blunkett , Especially Tony Blair and all the New Labour party instead of this brave man.

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We let in tramps and thieves and throw out those who are willing to put their lives on the line for this country? Get a grip Cameron and get this sorted out please! This man needs our support not a kick in the teeth.

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Just about sums up the care,thought and consideration given to those in HMF,by all Governments!!!

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You deport people who have helped the country. and you let people stay that rob us blind.. only MP's can think like this

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About right for Cameron's Britain. Kick a guy out who has benefited our country and let in all the rubbish from Romania in January. The more you do for this country the less you get.

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