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Public crowdfunds more than £29,000 for grandmother deported from UK to Singapore yesterday afternoon

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Just days after Supreme Court ruled ‘anti-love law’ demanding £18,600 minimum income is lawful

Irene Clennell

Thousands of generous donors have clubbed together to raise funds for a grandmother who was deported to Singapore yesterday afternoon after living in the United Kingdom for 27 years. Over £29,000 has been raised so far.

Irene Clennell, 53, was put on a plane to Singapore yesterday with just £12 in her pocket and no change of clothes. According to a GoFundMe page set up by her sister-in-law earlier this month, Clennell was recently taken from her home near Durham — where she lived with and cared for her seriously ill British husband — to a detention centre.

There, she was told she was going to be deported because she had lost her indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Clennell — who has two British sons and a granddaughter — says this is because she spent time outside of the country when she was looking after her ill parents in Singapore. Both of her parents have now died.

Yesterday, Clennell called her sister-in-law at 11am to inform the family she was going to be deported at 3.30pm. Because it was a weekend, she was unable to contact immigration solicitors. Speaking to Buzzfeed, Clennell said she thinks her sudden removal was scheduled to take place on a Sunday so she wouldn’t be able to get hold of a lawyer. She also revealed she didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to her husband before being taken to the airport.

A Home Office spokesman told the BBC,

All applications for leave to remain in the UK are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. We expect those with no legal right to remain in the country to leave.

While some have used social media to defend the Home Office’s decision, many Twitter users are outraged by Clennell’s deportation, including a number of lawyers. Sean Jones QC made this damning observation:

While one Quadrant Chambers’ silk noted:

Others have channelled their anger into crowdfunding. Within hours of the deportation being announced, donors rushed to Clennell’s page to lend their support to the family and give what they can. At the time of publication, the total raised stands at £29,376. Money is continuing to flood in.

News of Clennell’s deportation comes just days after the Supreme Court made a long-awaited ruling on the rationality and lawfulness of the UK’s spousal immigration rules.

The court decided that the controversial “anti-love law” — which bars non-European Economic Area (EEA) citizens from living here with their low-earning UK spouses — is in principle lawful. This means UK citizens must earn £18,600 a year or more if they want their foreign partners to come live with them.

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