Deportation mother 'feels let down'
A mother fighting deportation because she fears her two daughters will be subjected to female genital mutilation in her native Nigeria said she feels "let down" by the Home Office.
Afusat Saliu, 31, and her two daughters Bassy, four, and Rashidat, two, were seized by officials on Wednesday and were due to fly to Lagos on a Virgin Atlantic flight last night but were given an overnight reprieve.
Lawyers acting for Ms Saliu have launched a judicial review in a last-ditch attempt to keep her in Britain.
And they have accused border officials of ignoring their own guidelines by ordering her deportation before the review is heard.
Ms Saliu, herself a victim of FGM, told ITV News: "Yeah, I feel let down, I feel let down because (the Home Office) didn't give me the chance, they didn't care about my children and I came here to this country for protection.
Speaking via phone from a holding centre near Heathrow, she said her daughters faced a real threat of FGM in Nigeria.
"Yeah that's what I'm scared for," she said. "I'm scared of my extended family. My two girls, how can I protect them?
"I know how traumatic it is and I don't want my girls, these two innocent girls, to go through it."
Billionaire businessman and Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson was flooded with more than a thousand tweets urging him personally to step in to block the flight.
Anj Handa, a close friend of the family, said officials agreed that the trio would not be deported last night and will have at least another day in Britain before they are flown to Lagos.
She said: "Afusat was meant to be given 72 hours notice before she was actually deported, and the Home Office totally ignored that. Finally they have accepted that.
"She has been given an overnight reprieve, but the campaign is still very much ongoing and the lawyers are still working on her judicial review.
"We are still urging people to keep up the pressure to help her stay in this country while the case is reviewed."
Ms Sali fled to the UK in 2011 while she was heavily pregnant after her stepmother threatened to subject her daughter Bassy to the cutting.
She has previously told how she fears both her daughters will be mutilated and she will be forced to marry against her will if they are forced to return to the African country.
Friends of the family, who are Christian and have been living in Leeds, have also warned they could be targeted by Islamic terror group Boko Haram, who recently kidnapped around 250 schoolgirls in Nigeria, if they are deported.
More than 120,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the Home Office reconsider the case.
A Home Office spokeswoman said it does not comment on individual cases and would not confirm if Ms Saliu's deportation has been delayed.