The seven-year-old girl due to be separated from her family in London and deported to an orphanage 3,000 miles away in Jamaica, has been granted a last- minute reprieve after authorities in the Caribbean island requested further information on her case.
Whitney Forrester discovered while visiting her father in England that her aunt in Jamaica could no longer look after her.
She was due to be sent away today, despite pleas from her natural father, Gilroy Forrester, who has lived in this country for nearly seven years, that he was able and willing to care for her.
Solicitors for Whitney's family had claimed that the Jamaican social services were not aware of the fact and yesterday received a fax asking for her deportation to be deferred as a result of "recent developments" until further information could be provided on the case.
Jawaid Luqmani, a solicitor for the family, said the Jamaican authorities had asked the British imigration officials to postpone Whitney's removal to Jamaica to allow them to make further inquiries.
A Home Office spokesperson declined to confirm the news but said there was no reason to doubt the reprieve had been granted. Mr Luqmani said: "It would appear that the Immigration Authority made arrangements with the child services division in Jamaica for the removal of the child without providing them with all of the necessary information.
"That is why they have made a request for further information and the deferral of removal for the time being."
Bernie Grant, Labour MP for Tottenham, north London, where Whitney's father lives, said that the deferral added weight to what he and the Forrester family had been saying throughout Whitney's ordeal.
"The fact that questions are now being asked supports my contention that proper arrangements for Whitney's return were not made," Mr Grant said.The case will be considered again on 4 April.
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