More than 45,000 sign petition to stop widow's deportation

Myrtle says she wants to stay with her daughter in the UK Credit: ITV News

An elderly widow's bid to avoid deportation and stay in the UK with her daughter has received more than 45,000 signatures of support after an appeal was set up to petition the government to let her stay.

The appeal, set up after South African national Myrtle Cothill was told her bid to be allowed leave to stay in the UK on compassionate grounds had been denied and she faced deportation, is now almost halfway towards the number of signatures needed for lawyers to take it to parliament for debate.

The 92-year-old arrived in Britain on a tourist visa last year and had been living with her daughter in Dorset while an application to allow her to stay, based on the fact she had failing health and no one to look after her at home, was lodged.

Myrtle's application to the Home Office as well as a further appeal to the immigration office to stay were subsequently both denied.

Under UK immigration rules British citizens can only be joined by non EU relatives "where the long-term care they require is either not available or not affordable in their country of residence, but privately payable by them in the UK" and applications for leave should be submitted before arrival in the country.

Myrtle Cothill suffers from failing eyesight due to a degenerative illness and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Credit:

Earlier this month Myrtle told ITV News Meridian that she was praying she could remain with her daughter "til the end of my days" as she suffered from poor health and had no family in her home country who could help care for her.

Barrister Jan Doerfel said he was hopeful that there would be a reversal on the ruling in Myrtle's case after the huge amount of public support it had received.

He said: "A lot of people find the fact the Home Office is really demanding Myrtle to return to South Africa and could enforce that, they find that outrageous, they find that cruel, inhumane and an injustice."

Her daughter added: "I hope now that the Home Office will give my Mum a huge Christmas Present by Stamping her passport with Leave to Remain in England, the Country she has always loved and still does."