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Sisawo Jobarteh, an orphan from The Gambia. West Africa, was allowed into Britain two years ago to study, at a secondary school in Essex

Schoolboy to be deported after dispute over age

THE INDEPENDENT, Monday 26 August 1991

By Andrew Gliniecki

A SCHOOL pupil who claims he is 15 is to be deported because the Home Office believes that he is five years older.

Sisawo Jobarteh, an orphan from The Gambia. West Africa

was allowed into Britain two years ago to study, at a secondary school in Essex. But this month, returning from a holiday in Sweden, he was detained at Stansted Airport by immigration officers who queried the date of birth in his passport. They concluded that he had been been born in 1971. Rather than 1976. and informed him that be would be deported on the grounds that his passport had been falsified.

Speaking yesterday at his home in Tiptree, Essex. Sisawo said "I am very upset by what is happening, I was born on the sevent of February 1976. there is no doubt about that. I am working hard at school and to leave now would be terrible. and affect my chances. of getting a good job"

Simon Wezel an Essex businessman who acts as his guardian said the problem was caused by Gambian officials who had made a mistake in his wards passport when it was, orientally issued. The date of birth had been altered from 1971 to I976.

This made immigration officials at Stansted suspicious.. "The ridiculous thing is that this amendment was not queried by the British authorities until now" Mr Wezel said." He been back to The Gambia three times. and on no occasion did he have any problem getting back in to the country."

Mr Wezel became interested in helping poverty-stricken families in The Gambia when he went foe a holiday there in 1985. Two years ago, he arranged for Sisawo Jobarteh to attend the Thurstable School in Tiptree. After money dispatched to pay foe his schooling In The Gambia went missing. Ursula Broughton, the school’s head teacher. said: "I am sure Sisawo is 15. When he arrived here his voice hadn't broken and he was considerable shorter then me. In the last two years he has shot up in the same way as the other boys in their mid-teens "

She added that he had worked hard and that it would be a very sad blow" if he was deported before

he could finish his education. The Home Office says that Sisawo is not entitled to a British education paid for by State Fund. But the Essex Education Authority said 'We arc happy to let him continue with his education. In our view there's no reason why he couldn't continue at the school even if he were 20''

Doctors at Guy’s Hospital. London who examined Sisawo cast doubt on the Home Office assessment of his age. In a letter to immigration officials. Dr.Dulani Siriwardene of the hospital’s paediatric department. stated:Sisawo appears to be under 18 years of age and his height

and weight as consistence with those of a normal 15 to 16 year old

Mr Wezel is hoping to persuade the Home Office not to remove his ward

until he hast been able to travel to The Gambia to resolve the problem

The Home Office said yesterday. "We have written evidence and have checked with Gambian authorities. arid we are satisfied he is

aged 20 A Spokesman added that Sisawo Jobarteh would be deported "soon"

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