A grandmother has been deported from Britain with just £12 in her pocket despite living in the UK for 27 years.
Irene Clennell, who is married to a British man and has two sons and a grand-daughter who were all born in the UK, was sent back to her native Singapore on Sunday night.
Mrs Clennell, 53, who lives in Ouston, County Durham and cares for her husband, who is in poor health, had previously been taken to Dungavel detention centre in Lanarkshire, Scotland, after a routine appointment at an immigration reporting centre in Middlesbrough.
Irene arrived in the UK in 1988 and said she was given indefinite leave to remain after she married husband John, 50, in the same year.
But her residential status appears to have been invalidated by periods spent back in Singapore caring for her elderly parents. Subsequent attempts to apply for a more permanent visa have failed and a visitors’ visa expired three years ago.
Mrs Clennell spoke to Buzzfeed News while on the plane at Edinburgh airport waiting to take-off, and said that she was in tears and did not get time to say goodbye to her family. She said:
“They just came to get me this morning and said they’ve already given me a chance. Now I’m on the plane. Four people are taking me to Singapore.
“I don’t know what I’ll do when I land. I called my sister (in Singapore) and she said she can’t put me up, so I just don’t know.
“How can I stay anywhere? I don’t have a wallet with me, I’ve got about £12 in my pocket. I don’t even have my clothes, they’re at home.
“I just have what they took from the detention centre.”
Her husband, John, suspects she was deported out-of-hours on Sunday to avert a legal challenge. He said:
“She’s got nothing with her; all her clothes are here. What’s she supposed to do with £12? She’s got no clothes, no fresh underwear and nowhere to go.”
Her sister-in-law, Angela, told the Northern Echo: “I made several attempts to ring immigration and solicitors but nowhere was open.
“They just came and removed her without prior warning. It’s unbelievable.”
A Home Office spokesman said:
“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.”