Whitney saved from orphanage exile

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Whitney Forrester was cross at having to miss school yesterday to have her photograph taken. But it was a very special occasion: finally the threat of being sent away from her father, Gilroy, to an orphanage 3,000 miles away had been lifted.

She was to have been returned to Jamaica in March, despite pleas from Mr Forrester, who has lived in Britain for nearly seven years, that he was able and willing to care for her. Once there, as her mother had abandoned her, she would have been placed in a children's home. Yesterday the Home Office minister Mike O'Brien confirmed that she was allowed to remain.

"I am smiling today and so is Whitney," said a joyful Mr Forrester. "She understood what was happening and was very disturbed by the idea of being separated from me and her brother, Adrian. It would have been unbearable if she had been sent back to an institution where she knew nobody." The Home Office said in March that she was being returned to Jamaica because she did not apply for entry clearance from the British High Commission in Kingston. The family said it was unaware such a procedure was necessary, particularly since Whitney's stay was not originally intended to be permanent.

She came to visit her father in Tottenham, north London, last October. Last year, her mother abandoned her after her new fiance refused to support the child and Whitney's aunt looked after her instead. But while Whitney was in Britain, her aunt said that she would no longer be able to care for her.

Her deportation was deferred after solicitors for her family had claimed that Jamaican social services were not aware that her father was willing to care for her and yesterday it was finally confirmed that could stay. The decision was welcomed as a "victory for common sense" by Mr Forrester's MP, Bernie Grant, who had campaigned on the family's behalf.

Comments