Thursday, 27 May 2010

A big day for Precious and her mum

It's funny, I've written screeds and screeds about Precious and Florence Mhango, the ten year old girl and her mum who are fighting for the right to stay here where they've been for the last 7 years and where they're safe. And now that the big day has arrived, I seem to have run out of steam. Having said that, I often start a blog post saying I don't have much to say ..... fast forward ten paragraphs!

Today though feels a little flat, probably because there's not much we can do right now, it's out of our hands. Today is not the final day in this fight but it is probably the most significant day in terms of deciding their future. Today their hearing for a judicial review (I'm not a lawyer so the terminology may not be perfect) will be heard by a judge at the High Court in London.

Everyone who's worked on this has done everything they possibly can so they should have a fighting chance in the court. The Facebook members, their amazing friends in Cranhill and beyond, complete strangers who just felt the need to help, journalists, some of whom you would never have expected to help, have helped because they really do care. And the legal team in London, I just can't praise highly enough. Their rates were very reasonable and Paul Chen's obvious commitment to working above and beyond the call of duty to help the Mhangos has been just great to witness.

Somebody emailed me last week to tell me she was sending £100 for the legal appeal. She said in her email that she'd seen Precious in Tesco in Shettleston helping some older ladies to get their shopping. She described her as "a very special little girl". And if you look at how she's really touched people's hearts, how she's brought out the best in everyone, it's hard not to agree that she is, indeed, special.

If the judge makes a decision one way or another today (and the most likely outcome is that he / she will although he could take longer), what we are hoping and praying for is that he / she finds in their favour. If that happens, the Home Office decision is not overturned, it's not that simple. But they will be directed by the judge to review all of the evidence and reconsider their decision. Now I don't have a great deal of experience of this kind of thing but I'd say we have something to celebrate if that happens.

What we can't do is rest on our laurels because the Home Office MIGHT just review it and not change the decision. Unlikely as that seems it can happen so whilst we are hoping for a celebration tonight, it will be just a little one until we hear the response from the Home Office. And of course I'll be encouraging everyone to write to the Home Secretary to encourage her to make the right decision.

But let's just wait and see what happens. It's going to be a long long day for everyone but particularly for Florence and Precious. The school is off today so at least they are at home together (they don't appear in court) and whilst they are both understandably afraid, they have a lot of faith and are gaining strength from prayer. So they're okay. And I've got very long nails I can bite. So I'm okay ;-) And all of their friends in Cranhill are keeping everything crossed. Let's hope today is the last time Precious and her mum have to go through all of this. I will blog later today when we have a decision.

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