THREE hundred local people have signed a petition to support Leigh community activist James Fallah-Williams in his campaign to remain in the UK.

The petition was handed in to Leigh MP Andy Burnham's office this week by James and a group of supporters.

James has also collected signatures from communities in Manchester where he has also done a great deal of community work supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Some of this work was paid until the UK Border Agency revoked his work permit in October 2010.

He is seeking asylum in the UK after he received threats following articles he wrote which were critical of the government in his home country of Sierra Leone.

Journalist James has lived in Britain for 12 years but the Home Office wants to deport him because they say he lived here illegally for 12 days. He disputes this, saying that he had permission to live in the country at the time cited by the UKBA.

The Manchester branch of the National Union of Journalists is also campaigning on James' behalf. The union's parliamentary group of MPs have written to the Immigration Minister Damian Green and have said they are willing to liaise with Andy Burnham to support James in his claim for asylum.

RAPAR, the Manchester based human rights charity which works with displaced people, is co-ordinating James' campaign and has launched an online petition for him.

Caption: James (centre) and supporters outside Andy Burnham's office in Leigh.