The Home Office has overturned its controversial decision to deny a visit visa for the father of the chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council after a public outcry.

Sabir Zazai wanted his father to see him receive an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University for his services to civil society over the last 20 years in the UK.

But the Home Office refused, saying it did not believe the 79-year-old would return home to Afghanistan after the ceremony.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the decision "shameful and utterly inexplicable" when it was raised in the Scottish Parliament last week.

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“My mother died last year without seeing her three grandchildren because the Home Office repeatedly denied her the right to visit us in the UK,” said Zazai, the 2019 winner of the Lord Provost’s award for human rights. 

“My nine-year-old daughter asked me last week whether that would happen with her grandfather too: that he would die before they ever got to see him again,” he told The Guardian newspaper.

According to the newspaper, the Home Office rang Zazai on Tuesday to say his father would be able to visit after all.

“They just said there had been a review and the decision had been overturned,” he said.

"I find it a little bit surprising because if you get a no from the private secretary to the director general of UKVI, then there’s a public outcry and that no becomes a yes, it shows that the Home Office is in a bit of a mess.”

Zazai, a refugee himself, is a personal friend of the bishop of Coventry and the chair of City of Sanctuary UK.

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The case of his father – who has been refused the right to visit three times over the past eight years – has been taken up by MPs and public figures. Two MPs have separately raised the issue as a point of order in the House of Commons.

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, the principal of Glasgow University, welcomed the decision.

He said: “We are delighted the Home Office has reversed its earlier decision and that the father of Sabir Zazai will now be able join us to watch his son being conferred with an honorary doctorate for services to civil society.”

The Home Office declined to comment.