In 1979 Anwar Ditta, born in Birmingham and brought up in Rochdale, was told that her three Pakistan-born children would not be allowed to join her and their father in England.
Anwar knew she had to get help. In November 1979 she approached Steve Cohen, a Manchester based lawyer who had fought similar cases. Together they held a public meeting in Rochdale and began the Anwar Ditta Defence Campaign. Demonstrations and rallies were held to gain support and raise the profile of the campaign. Support for the campaign came from both the local community in Rochdale and nationally. A petition of 3,000 signatures was handed to Timothy Raison, the minister responsible for immigration at Manchester Town Hall.
The Appeal Hearings in Manchester on April 28th and May 16th 1980 were attended by silent pickets outside and inside the court was ‘packed with supporters’ but still Anwar’s children were refused entry. Finally the family all had blood tests in an attempt to prove the truth. Faced with what had become a cause célèbre, the immigration service backed down and, in 1981, allowed Anwar to bring her children home to Rochdale.