A shop-worker who has lived in Britain for 27 years is facing deportation after being detained by immigration officers.
Stojan Jankovic, 52, has worked at Earth Natural Foods in Camden, London for 15 years but is currently being held at a detention centre in Dorset while officials attempt to remove him from the country.
Mr Jankovic arrived in the UK in 1991 from the then Republic of Yugoslavia, but his application for asylum is understood to have been refused.
It is believed his leave to remain in the country expired in 1999 but he has been working and paying taxes since then without encountering any problems.
Mr Jankovic’s boss, John Grayson, described him to the Camden New Journal as “kindly, avuncular, cheerful [and] reliable”.
“I don’t think he’s had a day off sick in the 15 years he’s worked for us”, he added.
“This has been his home and his work and his community for the last 27 years. He’s known to hundreds if not thousands of people in Kentish Town as the bloke with a beard that serves in our shop.”
Anne Hall, a local resident who has known Mr Jankovic for 15 years, said: “He was very special. He was always so lovely. He is a very educated, peace-loving man. I just can’t believe it, I think we’re becoming a police state.”
Mr Jankovic was arrested when he attended his weekly appointment at an immigration reporting centre on Thursday.
“He’s done that once a month for ten years, just so they know where he is”, Mr Grayson said. “Yesterday, with no warning, they didn’t let him go and bundled him into a back of a van. It was totally out of the blue, from his point of view and ours.”
Asked what had changed to warrant his employees’ arrest, Mr Grayson said: “The Tories took over, that’s what’s happened. Discretion has gone out the window and the Home Office can do whatever they want.”
Mr Jankovic’s MP, Keir Starmer, has asked the Home Office to delay his deportation in order to allow time for a full legal challenge.
The Home Office does not comment on individual cases.