Girl likely to face FGM if deported, judge rules

The High Court in London. Picture: STEVE PARSONS/PA WIRE

The High Court in London. Picture: STEVE PARSONS/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

A High Court judge has concluded a 10-year-old girl being supervised by Suffolk County Council who is the daughter of an asylum-seeker at risk of deportation is likely to face female genital mutilation if she leaves the UK.

Mr Justice Newton heard the girl's mother, who has links to Bahrain and Sudan, had applied for asylum.

However her application has been rejected by Home Office officials and two tribunal appeals dismissed, and the woman fears she would end up in Sudan where her daughter would be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).

The judge, who analysed evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London in December, has now made an FGM protection order.

He said the girl would be at "high risk" of being subjected to FGM if she moved to Sudan.

Mr Justice Newton has said the case, which has been examined by three judges, is the first of its kind and raises public interest issues relating to tensions between politicians and the courts.

A family court judge initially oversaw hearings in 2018 and raised concern about the risk of the girl being subjected to FGM in Sudan.

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He said the case should be considered by a High Court judge and Mr Justice Newton began to examine evidence.

In 2019, Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, also considered issues.

Sir Andrew concluded a judge could not bar a home secretary from deporting the woman but only ask for judges' FGM concerns to be taken into account.

Lawyers say the woman and her daughter are still in Britain. The girl cannot be identified.

Social services bosses at Suffolk County Council have responsibilities for the girl's welfare.

Barrister Charlotte Proudman, who represents the girl's mother, said after the ruling, that Home Secretary Priti Patel should show compassion.

"The overwhelming evidence is that this child is at risk of FGM if removed," said Dr Proudman.

"It's time for Priti Patel to show compassion, common sense and make sure a child is kept safe."

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