52-year-old Singaporean deported after losing decades-long fight to stay with British husband

Mrs Irene Clennell and her husband John in a photo taken last year. She has been deported to Singapore despite a two-decade-long fight to be allowed to remain in Britain with her family.
Mrs Irene Clennell and her husband John in a photo taken last year. She has been deported to Singapore despite a two-decade-long fight to be allowed to remain in Britain with her family.PHOTO: NORTH NEWS & PICTURES LTD

A 52-year-old Singaporean has been deported to Singapore after losing her legal battle to stay in Britain with her British husband of 27 years.

The BBC reported on Monday (Feb 27) that grandmother Irene Clennell was put in a van and taken to the airport on Saturday (Feb 25).

Mrs Clennell, who has two sons, aged 27 and 25, and a granddaughter, had been held in a Scottish detention centre for apparently flouting immigration rules.

A Home Office spokesman told BBC: "All applications for leave to remain in the UK are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. We expect those with no legal right to remain in the country to leave."

Mrs Clennell was detained on Jan 20, after a routine appointment at an immigration reporting centre in Middlesbrough, and has been held at the Dungavel Detention Centre in South Lanarkshire since the start of February.

 

Her immigration battle, which has made headlines in Britain, has gone on for more than two decades. She was granted an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) - which is typically given to foreign spouses of British citizens - when she married Mr John Clennell in 1990, after they met in a London pub. The ILR allows a person to stay in Britain without time restrictions.

In 1992, she moved back to Singapore with her husband. She stayed here as her mother was sick. When her mother died in 1999, she found that her ILR had lapsed as a clause in it says she cannot live outside Britain for more than two years. Her husband and their sons returned to Britain in 1998.

Her numerous applications for another ILR have been rejected. Her plight has been highlighted by British non-governmental organisation Migrant Voices, and a campaign is being started to bring her back to Britain, BBC said.

Mrs Clennell had previously told The Straits Times that she had sought legal aid to fight her case. Her husband's sister also started a fund-raising page for her legal fees.

She told The Straits Times: "Here, I have my husband and my sons. But they want to send me back and I have nothing in Singapore."