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Keir Starmer intervention sees London shop worker released from detention

A popular shop worker who has lived in the UK for 26 years and was detained by immigration officers the day after article 50 was triggered will have two weeks to challenge his deportation following an intervention from the Labour MP Keir Starmer.

Stojan Jankovic, 53, known as “Stoly”, who fled former Yugoslavia in 1991, was detained without warning on Thursday, and faces the possibility of deportation to Serbia as early as 4 April.

An online petition has attracted more than 22,000 signatures in 48 hours and a #savestoly campaign is running on Twitter, with supporters including Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker.

Jankovic was released from detention on Monday, according to Starmer.

Jankovic had worked at the Earth Natural Foods shop in Kentish Town, north London, for 15 years, paying national insurance and tax, according to his employers.

In an interview from the Verne immigration removal centre in Dorset, before his imminent release, Jankovic, who said he saw himself as “completely assimilated” in UK life, and who has not left the UK since his arrival, blamed his “sticky situation” on his failure to properly understand the bureaucracy surrounding his applications for indefinite leave to remain.

His detention has been met with dismay in his local community in Kentish Town, where a campaign to prevent his deportation is under way.

Holborn and St Pancras MP Starmer said Jankovic will now be given two weeks to challenge his deportation. In a statement, the MP said: “I am pleased to report that, after discussions with immigration minister Robert Goodwill’s private office, it has been agreed that no removal direction in the Stoly Jankovic case will be set until 14 days from today. That provides time for proper representation to be made, and legal advice to be given.”

The MP tweeted:

Jankovic was detained without warning on Thursday with just the clothes was wearing at the time, at an immigration reporting centre in London Bridge, where he had been required to sign in each month for several years.

Starmer told the Guardian that while his imminent release was good news, “it does call into question the whole procedure”.