A MAN due to be deported back to Uganda is still in the UK after refusing to board his plane this morning.

Campaigners have been trying to save John 'Bosco' Nyombi from being sent back to the East African country where they fear he will be persecuted because of his sexuality.

The 38-year-old was due to fly from Gatwick Airport at 6.40am but the plane took off without him leaving him with the immigration services.

Neil Pugmire, a spokesman from the Diocese of Portsmouth, said: “We received a telephone call from John on a landline in Gatwick Airport telling me he had refused to get on the plane and that they had accepted that decision.

“He’s still being held at Gatwick Airport. I imagine that the immigration services are looking for a detention centre that they can take him to. That, we hope, will buy us some time for his solicitor to take some legal action – an injunction or a judicial review.”

A number of friends, work colleagues and campaigners also travelled up to the airport this morning to protest at his forced departure.

Colleagues at Stonham Housing Association, where he has worked almost since his arrival, launched a campaign and a petition, which they plan to send to the Home Office.

But Neil added that there had been no last minute review of his deportation from the government.

Bosco has been working with mentally ill people in the city for the past six years while his application to stay in the UK has been heard by the immigration authorities.

He fled to the UK from Uganda where homosexuality is illegal and carries a punishment of life in prison.

Bosco, as he is known, was also told his life could be in danger, after his brother, a high profile opposition campaigner, was murdered.

He was unexpectedly taken into custody this week after his last appeal was refused.