Woman campaigns for return of partner deported to Jamaica after 22 years in Tower Hamlets

Jana and partner Rayan Crawford who was deported to Jamaica in February. Picture: Jana Daduova

Jana and partner Rayan Crawford who was deported to Jamaica in February. Picture: Jana Daduova - Credit: Archant

A woman has accused the government of destroying her family after her partner was deported.

Rayan Crawford from Bow Church was thrown out of the country and flown to Jamaica after losing his right to remain in the UK, leaving behind parter of 15 years, Jana, and their two children aged three and 12.

Jana, who is campaigning for his return, said: "Rayan was ripped away from his children's lives. We miss him so much and we won't give up on him. We all make mistakes. It's not right to punish Rayan twice."

A Home Office spokesman said: "This individual has received 10 convictions for 22 offences, including a conviction of burglary for which he was given a prison sentence of two years and six months.

"We make no apology whatsoever for seeking to remove foreign criminals."

But campaigner, Sheila McGregor, from Tower Hamlets Stand Up to Racism, said: "The Home Office would like us to think these men are a threat to our very existence. Stealing is wrong, but Rayan did his time and plays in important role in his children's lives. Deportation punishes his children and partner."

Rayan came to the UK aged 12 to live with his father, Kenneth, and stepmother, Jennifer, who are both British citizens.

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The 34-year-old's prison sentence for burglary ended in 2018. However, it led to the loss of his indefinite leave to remain.

An appeal against deportation, in which Rayan argued it would contravene his right to a private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights, was made. But a first tier tribunal appeal was thrown out last April and an upper tier tribunal dismissed in June.

The judge deciding Rayan's case noted that while it would be "undesirable" for the children to remain in the UK without their dad, it was not "unduly harsh".

The judgement reads: "There is no reason to suppose their welfare would be imperilled if the appellant was deported.

"The pain of separation would be mitigated by the appellant being able to maintain regular contact with the children by the use of social media and through face to face contact on skype."

It adds that it would not be "unduly harsh" for Jana and the children to relocate to Jamaica, while recognising that readjusting to life there would be "very challenging".

Jana said: "How will the judge know how my children are feeling? They don't see my children's suffering. I can see how they are getting affected by losing their father."

On January 27, Rayan called Jana, saying he was being taken to a detention centre.

"I was in shock and so upset thinking what is going to happen next. I contacted his solicitor. He advised me to send a bail application. I had to borrow money from friends and family to pay," Jana said.

Since his deportation, Jana says the family speak daily, but their efforts to stay in touch are hampered by poor phone signals.

Jana said: "The children are asking me to call daddy every day. We try at least 15 times a day, but there's no signal. And they are upset as they have not seen their father. I really don't know what to do.

"Now I'm a single parent with two children without their father. It is a hard job. Rayan was always there."

Bethnal Green and Bow Labour MP, Rushanara Ali, accused the government of continuing to pursue a hostile environment policy in spite of promises following the Windrush scandal.

"I am determined to fight to bring Rayan back. The government's cruel action of deporting Rayan goes against his human right to family life.

"All deportations should have been halted pending the publication of the Windrush Lessons Learned review."

Under the UK Borders Act 2007, a deportation order must be made where a foreign national has been convicted of an offence and received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more.

This is subject to exceptions, including where doing so would breach a person's rights or the UK's obligations under the Refugee Convention.

The government stipulates that people are only returned to their country of origin when the Home Office and courts deem it safe.

Sheila said: "Deportation is double punishment. The idea it is not 'unduly harsh' for the children is disgraceful."