Saturday, 23 January 2010

An update on Florence and Precious Mhango

It has been some time since I blogged about Florence and Precious Mhango, the ten year old girl and her mum (both asylum seekers) who were locked up in detention, about to be deported, taken off the flight, back into detention for a month before finally being released from detention on 17 December after a high profile campaign backed by hundreds of people from Cranhill, from Glasgow, from Scotland and from around and beyond the UK. A quick search of this blog will give you the background. And yesterday Mike Small of the Bella Caledonia blog very kindly published this from me.

I've been in regular contact with both of them, now home in Cranhill, since they returned to begin the next stage of the legal battle. However I decided not to blog until I was doing so with the aim of garnering support for them. And that's what I'm doing now.

They were released on 17 December due to the public pressure so WE KNOW IT CAN WORK. On 18 December however the judge in the High Court in London did not award them a judicial review. The Home Office lawyers asked that the judge find their case to be "wholly without merit" but he thankfully declined to do that. They also asked that he (for he was a "he") rule that any appeal the Mhangos may launch would "not be a barrier to removal". In other words if they appealed, the Home Office should still be allowed to deport them. That too was denied. But he didn't award them a judicial review. So the legal team lodged an appeal.

And now, at last, we have a date. The appeal will be heard on Wednesday 10th February at the High Court in London. There are 2 ways the Mhangos can be reprieved. They can win their appeal and then win their judicial review. You can help with this by donating to their legal fund (details at the top of this blog).

Or they can be spared the need for any of this and the Home Secretary Alan Johnson can use his discretion, drop the legal objections and grant them leave to remain. He would not be setting any precedents in doing so - after all, they have lived here for 7 years, since Precious was a toddler of 3. Many more families are rightly granted leave to remain after a far shorter time period.

You can write to Alan Johnson and ask him to do just that. From the start of this campaign, Florence has asked that all correspondence supporting them is respectful. I wrote to Alan Johnson myself urging him to release them from detention and although he did not reply to me, when it came to the 28th day and he was required to give ministerial consent for the continued detention of Precious Mhango, he declined to do so and they were released.

So despite not responding to me, he must have listened to the strength of feeling from all of those others who wrote.

Therefore it is worth writing again.

And now is the time to do it.

Please send letters to:

Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP
Home Secretary
2 Marsham Street

Or you can email

We'll be assisting the advocate with his legal arguments but we need to find ways to get the public on side and involved again. If you want to get involved in the campaigning side of it, if you have any ideas, if you want to join the FACEBOOK group if you have contact lists you can use to send a link to this story, please get in touch. Remember we have 18 days to either get the Home Office to drop this or for them to win their appeal. It's an uphill struggle for this wee girl and her mum but the incredible public support has helped them more than you can imagine. Please help and please don't put it off until later. Act now. Thank you!

Finally, my job as an MSP is two fold - it's to represent my constituents and it's to look at the wider public policy issues and feed into that. On Sunday at 12, the Politics Show on BBC Scotland will feature Florence and Precious and I will then be debating the wider issue of child detention with Scotland Office Minister Ann McKechin. Please watch - because whilst we must save the Mhangos there are hundreds of children in detention all the time and it's utterly immoral and something we should be ashamed of.

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