Rejected by her mother and now by Britain

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A seven-year-old girl faces deportation to an orphanage 3,000 miles away from her family, despite pleas from her natural father that he is willing and able to care for her.

The Home Office was yesterday accused of being inhuman and racist by sending Whitney Forrester back to Jamaica on Wednesday. There, social services will place her in an orphanage because there is no relative to care for her.

"I thought this government was concerned about keeping families together but they are trying to take my daughter away from me," said her father, Gilroy, who has lived in London for nearly seven years.

The Home Office says that Whitney is being removed because she did not apply for entry clearance from the British High Commission in Kingston. Members of her family said they were unaware such a procedure was necessary, particularly since her stay was not intended to be permanent when she came last October.

Last year, Whitney's mother abandoned her, after her new fiance refused to support the child. While Whitney was in Britain, her aunt, who had taken charge of her, said she was no longer able to do so because she had a new job which entailed a lot of travelling.

At a press conference yesterday, Whitney's grandmother, brother and cousin joined Mr Forrester in pleading for her to stay, saying that she was settled and doing well at school.

Eight-year-old Kamisha Brown said: "It is disgusting that my cousin should be sent back home. Jamaica is a very hard country."

Close to tears, her grandmother, Violet Forrester, said that Whitney was already frightened at being sent back: "She understands a bit what is going on and has stopped eating." Bernie Grant, the Labour MP for Tottenham and Mr Forrester's MP, said: "The Conservatives commonly portray themselves as the party of the family - yet they are prepared to tear a black child from the bosom of a loving parent and grandparent, to place her in an institution where she knows nobody. I doubt very much whether a white child would be treated in this way."

The family's solicitor, Jawaid Luqmani, said it appeared that Jamaican social services had made the decision to take Whitney into their care without being advised of all the information, particularly that her father would care for her.

"We are waiting for a fax from the JSS that this is the case [and] then we will be lodging an appeal." If this failed, a High Court legal challenge would be lodged.

A Home Office spokeswoman said the case had been considered at ministerial level and that no child would ever be removed from the country unless there was "adequate and appropriate reception and care put in place".

Timothy Kirkhope, a Home Office Minister, strenuously denied there was any racism involved.