Seven-year-girl removed despite her mother’s presence in the UK

The Home Office has removed a seven-year-old from the country despite being repeatedly told someone claiming to be her mother was living in the UK.

Lavendah Nyambura, aged seven, was sent back to Kenya last month after being looked after by Hillingdon Council in London since April. She arrived with a child trafficker.

Joan Kinyanjui, 31, an asylum seeker living in Glasgow who claims to be the girl’s mother, said she and her lawyer had repeatedly contacted the Home Office about Lavendah’s whereabouts, after being told she was in the UK. Kinyanjui alleged Home Office officials visited her in June to ask her about her daughter but refused to confirm whether Lavendah was in the UK.

Strathclyde police also contacted the Home Office to ask about Lavendah and in October Glasgow North East MP Michael Martin also made inquiries.

Kinyanjui claimed the Home Office did not tell her that Lavendah was in the council’s care until seven days before she was removed.

She also said that she only managed to speak to the council the day after Lavendah had been removed, when she was told she had been returned.

Kinyanjui’s story has been publicised by The Unity Centre, an asylum seeker support centre in Glasgow that is helping her. Phil Jones, from the centre, said the Home Office had claimed there was no proof that Kinyanjui was the mother, but had not given her adequate time or opportunity, such as a DNA test, to challenge this.

“When a person notifies [the Home Office] that she is the mother of a child then the Home Office should take steps to investigate that,” he said.

A Hillingdon Council spokesperson said: “Where possible risk assessments are undertaken and the views of children and young people are ascertained before longer term plans are made, which may include return to country of origin.”

Kinyanjui fled Kenya four years ago after she helped her sister to escape extreme physical violence.

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Amy Taylor

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