Home Office ordered to allow Australian couple to remain in Forres

A COUPLE WHO were facing being split up when the wife was refused permission to remain in Scotland have won a legal battle to stay.

Cheryl and John Cruikshank moved to Forres from their Australian home because social workers wanted to put them into separate care homes.

John, 82, had emigrated to Australia in 1964 and has been with Cheryl, now 66, for the past 20 years – with Cheryl acting as his sole carer in recent years. Australian authorities decided that both should go into care homes – but that they would have to be separated as they were unmarried, so they fled to Scotland.

However, they soon ran into problems with the Home Office in the UK with Cheryl being told that she would need to return to Australia and re-apply for entry after six months. Initially they got around UK immigration rules by flying to Cyprus and renewing Cheryl’s visitor visa every six months.

When they married in Paphos in 2015, they mistakenly returned to the UK thinking that as a married couple – that was not the case however, and official in the UK refused her bid to remain on her compassionate grounds as the sole carer of her husband and long-term partner.

The case was highlighted in January when then MP for Moray, Angus Robertson, gave his support for their remaining in the UK, saying: “It seems to me that her application to reside in Scotland is perfectly reasonable. They married relatively recently but have been together for many years – this is good reason in itself to be able to live in Scotland.

“Over and above this Mr Cruickshank has suffered significant ill health and as a result Cheryl is his carer. This is a deserving case and I am urging the Home Office to take a sympathetic view.”

Now an appeal tribunal has found in her favour – the judge saying that the couple had been caught “between a rock and a hard place”.

Judge Kempton said: “There is also the issue of the loss of society for a couple in their twilight years who are devoted to one another and who rely upon one another for long shared experiences and love dating back many years.

“Would it not be cruel to separate such a couple who meant no harm in coming to the UK? I consider that the public interest does not require such draconian steps in this case.”

Cheryl said: “It is such a relief that this is not hanging over our heads anymore.”

However, the couple may yet face an appeal against the decision, with the Home Office able to appeal inside 14 days and saying that they are considering their options.