Singaporean grandmother Irene Clennell finally granted visa to live in Britain: Reports

Mrs Irene Clennell sitting on the couch that has been her bed during her stay in Singapore. Photo taken on March 2, 2017.
Mrs Irene Clennell sitting on the couch that has been her bed during her stay in Singapore. Photo taken on March 2, 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

A Singaporean grandmother and mother of two British children who has been married to a Briton for 27 years has finally been granted a visa to live in Britain by the country's authorities.

Mrs Irene Clennell, 53, was forcibly taken from her home in County Durham to an immigration detention centre in Scotland before being forced onto a flight to Singapore in February for overstaying her visitor's visa.

"Mrs Clennell has been granted a visa as a spouse as her latest application meets the immigration rules to enter the UK," Britain's Home Office has now said according to the BBC and the Guardian newspaper on Friday (Aug 25).

"This does not negate the previous decision which was the result of Mrs Clennell having entered the UK as a visitor, overstaying her leave to remain and making several applications while in the UK which did not meet the immigration rules.

"During that time, it was open to her to leave the UK voluntarily at any time in order to re-apply under the correct route as she has now done."

Mrs Clennell arrived in the UK in 1988 and had indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the country. This, however, lapsed after she spent long periods back in Singapore caring for her sick mother, who died in 1999.

She and her British husband John and children stayed on in Singapore till 2003.

 
 
 

When they returned to Britain, her applications for an ILR were repeatedly rejected.

Mrs Clennell, who was the main caregiver to her husband, told The Straits Times in an interview in March that her relationship with her sons John and Sonny, now 27 and 25, suffered as she could travel to Britain only on a tourist visa.

From 2003, she could only spent short periods of time with them before she had to leave the country. She did not visit her family between 2007 and 2013, as she mistakenly thought there was a five-year travel ban against her.

She was able to re-enter Britain only in 2013, after an immigration officer allowed her to make another application within the country. She was eligible to apply for a British citizenship only if her ILR was still valid and she met the residency requirements of the country.

The British Home Office previously said that applications for an ILR are "considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules".

The Straits Times reported in March that Mrs Clennell had been living with her older sister Lily Anthony, 54, in a rented condominium apartment in Sembawang since her return to Singapore.

Writing for the Guardian shortly after her removal, Mrs Clennell said: “During my removal from Britain I was treated like a terrorist: I was restrained by the arms, my every word written down, and there were guards on the door when I went to the toilet. This happened in full view of the public in Edinburgh airport, and was deeply humiliating.

She added: “They embarrass me in front of everybody, the only thing I did wrong was marry a British man and want to stay in the country with my kids and my husband.”

The Straits Times has contacted Mrs Clennell since reports of her being granted a visa emerged but she has not yet responded to requests for comment.