Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Deported County Durham mum reunited with family in the North East

Irene Clennell was living in Chester-le-Steet with her husband John when she was deported Credit: Family photo

A grandmother who was deported despite having lived in Britain for 30 years has been reunited with her family for the first time in seven months.

Irene Clennell, who has lived in County Durham since 1990, was put in a Scottish detention centre before being deported back to Singapore with just £12 in her pocket and the clothes she was wearing.

At the time of her deportation, the 53-year-old was the main carer for her seriously ill husband John - who she has been married to for 27 years.

But on Wednesday, a relieved Irene has been reunited with John on British soil for the first time since February 2.

Irene, who is mother to John, 26 and Sonny, 25, said:

It was horrible when I was taken away from the detention centre and told I was going to be put on a plane.

I felt that I was worse than a terrorist.

I had to have two big men holding by the arms taking me through the airport.

Everyone was staring at me.

It was not a pleasant experience - but I just tried to not think about it much and focus on trying to find a way back to the UK.

Although it was awful, that is the way that things are so I can't condemn the British Government.

I should have looked into getting a visa more, instead of thinking it would all be alright. But when they said that I was going back to Singapore I just went blank.

I knew that I had to be sure that I would be allowed to come back before getting upset about missing everyone. But now I am just so happy to see everyone - to be back with my husband and children and dogs, and know that everything will be okay.

It's a relief."

– Irene Clennell

Irene and John first met in a London bar, as she worked in a Casino in 1989. The couple married in 1990 and Irene was given indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

However when Irene returned to Singapore to care for her sick parents, who have both since died of cancer, she fell foul of foreign office red tape.

Irene's shocking story made headlines around the world, and kind members of the public set up crowdfunding pages and raised more than £56,000 to contribute to lawyers fees, travel and accommodation.

After seven months of worrying about John's health from over 6,500 miles away, she is now pleased to know that she can care for him again.

When I saw him as soon as I got back he looked haggard and drained. I did not want to cry in front of him because I did not want to upset him.

He has really been struggling with me gone. He's been stressed.

It has really been a relief knowing that I can come back and not have to worry about who would be looking after him. Now I can take care of him again.

I just want to thank the public for their help - I do really believe if it was not for the British public then I would still be in Singapore. It has not only been donations, but people have given me such kind words as well.

I just can't wait until it sinks in."

– Irene Clennell