A TEENAGE orphan who faced being deported from Glasgow to Georgia has been granted permission to stay in Scotland permanently.

Giorgi Kakava, 13, has been granted the right to remain indefinitely after a lengthy battle with the Home Office.

He said a “big weight” had been lifted off his shoulders but is disappointed that his grandmother, Ketino Baikhadze, has only been given 30-months leave to remain and could still be forced to return to Georgia, the country of their birth.

Giorgi, who is in second year at Springburn Academy and arrived in the city when he was three, said: “I was very excited when I heard that I have been granted permanent residency and can continue staying here.

“It is good news because Glasgow is my home, I feel Scottish and If I got moved to Georgia it would be tough to cope without all my friends.

“But the decision is very unfair on my nan because we are very close and I do not know what I would do if she was sent away.”

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The case was championed by Church of Scotland Rev Brian Casey, a minister of Springburn Parish Church, who lobbied the UK and Scottish governments and launched an online petition which attracted 92,650 signatures.

Giorgi and his mother, Sopio Baikhadze, fled to Glasgow in 2011 because she feared that gangsters whom her late husband owed a debt to would either kill him or sell him to sex traffickers.

The 35-year-old, who worked as a freelance translator and spoke four languages, was awaiting the outcome of an appeal for asylum when she passed away after a long illness in early 2018.

Mr Casey conducted her funeral at Springburn Parish Church along with Father John McGrath of nearby St Aloysius Church and it was her dying wish that her son remained in Glasgow and continued to grow up a “Scottish boy”.

Former Glasgow North-East MP turned MSP, Paul Sweeney, raised the case in the House of Commons and the then Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a Home Office review.

Bob Doris, MSP for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, brought Giorgi’s plight to the attention of the Scottish Parliament and secured the support of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Home Office granted the teenager and his grandmother leave to remain in the UK for 30-months in July, 2018 and their permits expired in December last year, once again leaving them facing an uncertain future.

Asked how he has coped with living under a cloud of uncertainty since the death of his mother, Giorgi said: “I have felt stressed because it has always been in the back of my mind that something could go wrong and I might be sent away to a place I do not remember.

“But I was not scared because I have had people behind me.

“I would like to thank everyone who signed the petition and all those who have supported me.

“People in Springburn have been by my side helping throughout all of this, they are very kind and I will always be grateful.

“I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can move forward with my life with a lot less stress than I felt before.”

Mrs Baikhadze, 61, said she was “very happy” that the hard-fought campaign to keep Giorgi, who loves assembling desktop computers and graphic design, in the UK had been successful.

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She is pragmatic about her own situation and explained: “I live for Giorgi and as long as he is fine, I am fine as well.

“It is great news that he has been granted permanent residency and I would also like to thank everyone who has supported and helped us.”

Mr Casey said he is “delighted” that Giorgi has finally been given the chance to live the life of a normal teenager.

“It has been a long fight but it would have been criminal to send him back to a country that he doesn’t know where he could be in danger,” he added.

“But it does seem wrong that his gran, who is his guardian, will have to go through this whole protracted process again when he is 15 and still a minor.

“So, as we move forward we will have to keep an eye on that because it would be a travesty if they are split up.”