ASKED how he feels about having to leave his adopted home, Frankie’s eyes well up, tears trickle down his cheeks, and his words are drowned in sadness.

Frankie – real name Carim Mohideen – has lost his race against time to stay in this country, where he has been an asset to his employers for ten years, always paid his taxes and National Insurance, never taken a day off, and never claimed a penny in benefits.

Frankie, who takes his name from his hero, Frankie Dettori, has been working as a stable-hand for racehorse trainer Michael Dods, in the picturesque village of Denton, near Darlington.

As a jockey in India, Frankie had ridden nearly 500 winners and, at a time when racehorse trainers struggle to find suitable staff to carry out skilled, hard work, he was a valued employee who had become part of the “family” at Denton Hall.

And yet, despite all of that, tighter rules around immigration have forced him to fly back to India, where he has little prospect of finding work, leaving Michael Dods scratching round to find a replacement anywhere near as good.

“I love it here,” says Frankie, wiping his tears and finally able to get the words out. “I always work hard and do my best. I want to stay.”

He is speaking the day before he has to catch a flight from Newcastle Airport to Dubai and then on to India. Colleagues at the racing yard have made him a farewell cake, and that has made him cry too.

Had he not flown back, he would have faced deportation, his employer would have risked a heavy fine, and the chances of him ever being able to return would have been slim.

“It’s scandalous – there’s no other word for it,” says Michael Dods who has fought hard to find a way for Frankie to stay. “We understand that there have to be rules but surely there also has to be some flexibility in the system.”

Frankie has won several awards at racecourses for turning out his horses in exemplary fashion, and he was good enough to be entrusted with looking after champion sprinter Mecca’s Angel, one of the fastest horses trained in the north in a generation.

Under previous immigration rules, Frankie had to apply for a work permit every three years to give him “leave to remain” status. However, following a rule change, he had to obtain “indefinite leave” status, which required him to pass a “Life in the UK” test as well as an English test.

Nearly £3,000 has to be paid to the Home Office for each permit, plus £1,500 to a company helping with administration. It costs £150 to take the English test, and the Life in the UK exam is £50 a go.

But despite taking the examination 16 times, Frankie simply couldn’t pass. Indeed, the questions are tough enough to challenge someone who’s British through and through, let alone someone striving to make a living thousands of miles from home.

“A lot of people in this country don’t pay tax or National Insurance and claim benefits, and yet here’s someone who works his socks off, has always paid his way, and is meeting a real need. Despite all of that, he has to go back. How can that be right?” asks Michael Dods.

“We’ve done everything we can to support him through the exams and appeal to the authorities. We’ve reached the end of the road but keep trying to help him get back.”

Frankie, who has three children, is striving to pay for his youngest son to go to college to train to be an accountant, but prospects for a man with his skills are limited back in India. Somehow, he hopes to find a way to return to the corner of County Durham that became his adopted home, and where there will always be a job waiting for him.

Michael Dods is right. It is a scandal. A shameful, non-sensical, heartbreaking scandal.



1. When did Ireland split into two countries?

a) 1922 b) 1925 c) 1934 d) 1949

2. For how long did England remain a Republic?

a) 14 years b) 11 years c) 10 years d) 12 years

3. Which word comes from the Viking language?

a) Leg b) Arm c) Scunthorpe d) cow

4. Which operas were written by Gilbert and Sullivan?

a) Jesus Christ Superstar b) HMS Pinafore and The Mikado c) Evita d) The Phantom of the Opera

5. What is the judiciary responsible for?

a) Interpreting the law b) Deciding whether a person is guilty c) Putting people in prison d) Looking after a jury.

6. What did Henry VII do?

a) Reduced the power of the nobles b) Increased the power of the nobles c) Restricted kings’ power d) Broke away from the Church of Rome

7. What did the The Chartists campaign for?

a) The right to vote for women b) The right to vote for the working class c) The right to vote for 18-year-olds d) The right to vote for 21-year-olds

8. When is St David’s Day?

a) March 17 b) March 1 c) April 23 d) November 30

9. What created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland?

a) The Act of Union b) The Great Union c) The Great Governments d) The Act of Governments

10. When did the first Christians appear in Britain?

a) 3rd and 4th centuries b) 2nd and 3rd centuries c) 4th and 5th centuries d) 1st and 2nd centuries

Answers: 1 A; 2 B; 3 C; 4 B; 5 A; 6 A; 7 B; 8 B; 9 A; 10 A