Clarke grants male au pair a reprieve

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The Independent Online
A CAMPAIGN was mounted yesterday for a change in the law to allow male au pairs to work in Britain. The move comes after the announcement that Johan Egelstedt, 19, a Swedish au pair due to be deported yesterday, is to be allowed to remain in the country for one month.

Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, made a last-minute intervention after pleas from the Baughan family, who invited Mr Egelstedt to stay at their Leicester home, and their local MP, Greville Janner.

Mr Egelstedt's status has now been changed from 'au pair' to 'visitor'. He is not allowed to earn money for looking after the Baughans' four children, and plans to travel around the country.

Sue Baughan, 38, said yesterday: 'We regard the decision to let Johan stay as a tremendous victory, but we're determined to change this ridiculous law forbidding male au pairs.'

Mr Janner, Labour MP for Leicester West, said he would be writing to Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Employment. He will press for the right of male au pairs to work in Britain to be included in this autumn's Employment Bill. 'The time has come for this crazy law to be changed. It is a ludicrous hangover from the past,' he said.

Mr Egelstedt, from Vasteras, 80 miles west of Stockholm, was minutes away from leaving the Baughan home in Westleigh Road, Leicester, for Heathrow airport, when he heard of his reprieve at just before 1pm. Mr Clarke had taken time off from watching Nottingham and Derbyshire play cricket at Trent Bridge yesterday to deal with the case.

'I had packed my bags and I really thought that I would be returning to Sweden,' Mr Egelstedt said.

'Everyone I have spoken to has given their support. I have been very busy over the last few days, but it has all been for a very good cause.'

In addition to widespread publicity in Britain, Mr Egelstedt's plight made front page news in Sweden and was broadcast to other European countries.

He now plans to become 'an ordinary tourist' and travel around Britain seeing the sights. He is hoping that he will be able to extend his stay beyond one month but is not sure how long his money will last. He wants to improve his English before starting his national service next summer.

Mrs Baughan, who interviewed Mr Egelstedt and other Swedish candidates for the job of au pair over the telephone, is making alternative arrangements for her child care. 'For the time-being, I'll have to rely on friends. But now we know him, we feel it's such a shame that Johan isn't allowed to do the job.'

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