Home Office broke its own rules by taking children into care by Diane Taylor

The Home Office broke its own rules when British children had to be taken into care after officials arrested their father.

The children, aged eight, six and five, were expecting to be collected from school near their home in Manchester by their father, Kenneth Oranyendu, 45, on Friday afternoon but instead social workers took them into care.

Oranyendu said his 17-year-old autistic son was in the family home and he was very concerned about his welfare.

“I don’t know where my youngest three children are at the moment. I haven’t been able to speak to them and I know they will be absolutely distraught,” he said.

Oranyendu has a conviction for drug trafficking. He claims he was duped into accepting parcels containing drugs. He has served a three-year jail sentence and faces deportation. A petition has been launched on change.org demanding that Oranyendu be allowed to remain in the UK with his family.

The four children and Oranyendu’s partner are all British citizens. His partner is in Nigeria to attend a family funeral and he was caring for the children.

Oranyendu has been detained and bailed twice from immigration detention in recent months. He has abided by his bail conditions and has reported regularly to Dallas Court, a Home Office reporting centre in Manchester.

It was when he went to report on Friday that Home Office officials arrested him. He begged to be allowed to remain on bail at least until his partner returned from Nigeria, but the Home Office refused and he was told his children would be taken into care.

In December, the Home Office published guidance which clearly states that children must not be taken into care in such situations. It states: “A child must not be separated from both adults for immigration purposes (or from one, in the case of a single-parent family, if the consequence of that decision is that the child is taken into care).”

Oranyendu said: “These four British children have not committed any crime. Why is the Home Office punishing them by separating them from the parent who is caring for them while the other parent is out of the country at a family funeral? I pleaded with the Home Office to let me stay with my children, but they didn’t listen.”

He added that he had managed to make contact with his wife to tell her what had happened and that she too was distraught. She was due to return to the UK at the end of this month but is trying to return earlier.

Oranyendu was detained at Dallas Court at 10am on Friday and held there until the evening, when he was driven 200 miles to Colnbrook immigration removal centre near Heathrow.

Celia Clarke, a director of the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees, said: “We see the effects of the casual cruelty of detention decision-making on a daily basis and we steel ourselves so that we can assist our clients, but sometimes something happens which takes your breath away.

“To tear a parent away from his four children while the other parent is out of the country is a level of cruelty and disregard for the children that is on another level altogether. How was it allowed to happen that these children were taken into care? The Home Office is in clear breach of its own policies, which are designed to safeguards children’s rights.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes in the UK should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them, and we have removed more than 40,000 foreign offenders since 2010.”

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