Campaign to keep Portas in UK rejects rumours

NAWN 1408054AM5 Portas Ongondo. Picture : Adrian Murray.(1408054AM5)
NAWN 1408054AM5 Portas Ongondo. Picture : Adrian Murray.(1408054AM5)

Speculation about the personal life of a caretaker at a Collingham School have been refuted by the campaign fighting to keep him in the UK.

Rumours had begun to circulate about Portas Ongondo’s family in Kenya, some of whom remained when he moved to the UK in 2006 with his wife and three sons.

Mr Ongondo, who was a caretaker at Lady Hastings School before his right to work was withdrawn following the breakdown of his marriage and the end of his spousal visa, is now speaking out against claims he has a second wife and family still in Kenya.

Speaking to the Wetherby News he said: “I have never disputed that I have wider family in Kenya, and have even stated that the loss of my job and income has now affected support for my whole family.

“While I previously had another relationship in Kenya, it ended when I moved to the UK with my wife and three son’s.

“My second wife (common law) doesn’t come into the picture in any way because I was here to stay with my family that I am now being separated from.”

Statements of support from those involved in the campaign to keep Mr Ongondo in the UK have been released since speculation emerged this week.

Pastor at King’s Church Boston Spa Stephen Thompson said: “Portas comes from a different culture to ours, I accepted him as he is, and have always found him to be a good man, exemplary in every way.

“What has happened in the past doesn’t alter the basic fact that Portas is a hard-working man, beloved by the children and parents at Collingham, and by his church family.”

Campaigner Claire Strachan confirmed that his previous relationship, which has no marriage certificate, ended when he moved to the UK.

She said: “Portas advised us that his previous relationship which has no marriage certificate ended when he moved to the UK to be with his wife of 34 years and three of his children.

“The life he has established here and has fought to keep is something parents from the school involved in this campaign have supported and continue to do so.”

Mr Ongondo, who has been supported by pupils over the summer, lost two appeals against the decision to deport him and has decided to return to Kenya and resubmit and application from there.

Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke has been working with Mr Ongondo and offering support, including taking the case to Parliament this week.

He said: “I have been offering advice to Portas since November 2013 and have advised that, in my view, Portas is applying for the wrong type of visa and should consider a working visa in his own right.

“Law states that as Portas currently has no right to remain in the UK he will have to return to his home country and apply for this externally.”

The MP added: “However, I have had an assurance from the Minister of State that my own letter detailing the support within our community will be recorded on file before any decision is made on that future application.”