An SNP MP has come under attack from the British National Party, after calling for the UK's immigration rules to be relaxed so that an Indian woman can return to Scotland. Pete Wishart (left) was ridiculed on the BNP's website and described as a liar and "do-gooder" after raising the case of Nidhi Singh in the House of Commons.
Mrs Singh and her two young daughters were forced to leave their home in Perth after her husband, Navjot, died in January, months before he would have been resident in the UK long enough to qualify for indefinite leave to remain. Mrs Singh voluntarily returned to India, as she realised the family's right to stay in the UK was dependent on her husband's status. She is now keen to return to Scotland, where her husband's ashes are scattered and where her daughters went to school.
The Singhs arrived in Perth in 2004 with their first daughter, Kashish, now eight. Their second daughter, Tanisha, was born in Scotland. Mr Singh was employed by insurance firm Aviva.
Mr Wishart, the MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said the case highlighted a lack of flexibility in the immigration system, which he said worked to Scotland's disadvantage as it deprived the country of skilled workers – Mrs Singh has a degree in electronics and communications. He called for the UK to follow the lead of President Barack Obama's US administration and agree an immediate halt to the deportation of widows. The SNP wants immigration policy devolved to Holyrood, as it believes this would make it easier to address a projected fall in Scotland's population.
But the BNP said: "The SNP are so desperate to disenfranchise the Scots they would bring someone back to Scotland who, under the law, shouldn't even be living here."
An angry Mr Wishart said: "This attack is deplorable. I don't care what the BNP say about me, but the way they have tried to twist the facts of this case to suit their own nasty agenda is beneath contempt. The Singhs were forced out of their home and community at a sad and vulnerable time. Anyone with an ounce of decency will recognise that making a small change to the rules to ensure that this does not happen again is absolutely the right thing to do. Given our declining population, Scotland should be encouraging families like the Singhs to stay – not pushing them away."
Mr Wishart raised his concerns with Harriet Harman, the Leader of the Commons, this week.
Ms Harman told him that such cases were dealt with on an individual basis. "Members can ask ministers to intervene and exercise their discretion if the legal process has not produced a result that is considered fair," she said.
Last year, the Home Office reversed plans to deport to India a St Andrews University student, Swarthick Salins – whose cash reserves fell £80 below the £800 minimum required for immigrants under UK rules – after the intervention of the SNP. Mr Salins had lived in Scotland for nine years.