Crowdfunding drive for Singaporean deported from Britain raises over $80,000

PHOTO: The Straits Times

LONDON - A crowdfunding campaign for legal fees to help a Singaporean grandmother deported from Britain for breaching immigration rules had raised more than £46,000 (S$80,000) by Tuesday (Feb 28).

Irene Clennell, who first arrived in Britain in 1988 and is married to a British man, was deported to Singapore on Sunday despite a high-profile campaign for her to stay on compassionate grounds.

Her sister-in-law, Angela Clennell, set up the crowdfunding campaign, saying that her brother was seriously ill and Irene was his "sole caretaker".

"Irene has nowhere to go in Singapore, both her parents have passed away - her whole life is here in Britain," Clennell said on the website gofundme.com.

"As you can imagine it was a great shock receiving the phone call from Irene at 11am to inform us she was being deported at 3.30" on Sunday, she said.

52-year-old grandma back in Singapore after deportation

  • Mrs Irene Clennell is back in Singapore after being deported from UK, but will appeal against the decision.
  • She looked lost when she stepped into Changi Airport's Terminal 3 arrival hall on Feb 27.
  • At around 3.30pm, she met two of her three sisters - Ms Lily Anthony and Ms Juspin Anthony - at the arrival gate.
  • In an interview at Changi Airport, Mrs Clennell, 52, broke down as she recalled her last meeting with her husband John Clennell the week before.
  • The couple married 27 years ago and have two sons, aged 27 and 25, and a granddaughter, who is less than a year old.
  • She also now faces a 10-year travel ban to Britain as she was removed from the country at the public's expense.
  • Mrs Clennell was initially granted a spousal permit to reside in Britain - an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which states that the holder cannot live outside the country for more than two years. The ILR was voided when she lived in Singapore from 1992 to look after her sick mother, who died in 1999.
  • All her repeated applications for another ILR have failed since. She was allowed back into Britain in 2013 to make another application, which failed too.
  • Her belongings are still in her home in County Durham and she carried only £25 (S$43) - her earnings from working at the detention centre's laundromat.
  • Meanwhile, she will be putting up at Ms Lily Anthony's rented apartment, though the arrangement is only temporary as her sister's tenancy agreement does not allow long-term guests. Mrs Clennell intends to work if someone is willing to hire her.
  • Irene was the main caregiver to her husband, John, who is in ill health.

Clennell is staying with her sister in Singapore.

She and her husband John have two children and a two-year-old granddaughter.

She spent periods of time in Singapore to care for her parents before they died and lost her leave to remain as a result of Britain's spousal visa system.

The controversial system means that the British partner in a marriage has to prove earnings of at least £18,600 and the couple have to demonstrate long stretches of uninterrupted time living in Britain.

The threshold was put in place in 2012 as part of efforts to drive down the number of immigrants arriving in Britain from outside the European Union.

Mrs Irene Clennell with her sisters, Lily Anthony (middle) and Juspin Anthony (left) at Changi Airport.Photo: The Straits Times

"All applications for leave to remain in the UK are considered on their individual merits and in line with immigration rules," a Home Office spokesman said.

"We expect those with no legal right to remain in the country to leave," he said.

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