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25 Oct, 2020 00:09

UK govt investigates after pupils raise questions about balding asylum-seeker who claims to be 15 but ‘LOOKS ABOUT 40’ – report

UK govt investigates after pupils raise questions about balding asylum-seeker who claims to be 15 but ‘LOOKS ABOUT 40’ – report

The British Home Office has reportedly launched an investigation after students in Coventry raised questions about whether their new classmate – an asylum-seeker who is balding and looks about 40 – is really 15 as claimed.

Parents' fears were raised after students came home from school earlier this month saying the new pupil, purportedly a boy from Gambia, looked far too old to be in their class, the Sun newspaper reported. The issue came to a head after teachers summoned the mother of a girl who posted photos of the man on social media and questioned his age.

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The teachers were concerned that posting the images might be considered bullying. 

According to the Sun, the girl's mother told the teachers, "You can't really blame the children. He looks about 40." 

She added, "He's got a receding hairline for God's sake."

Under government guidelines, individual asylum-seekers who show up in the UK without a passport or birth certificate and claim to be under 18 are typically treated as minors unless their appearance and demeanor suggest they are over 25. The system is susceptible to abuse because child refugees receive more support than adults, including being allowed to attend school, and can't be forcibly removed from the country until they turn 18.

One such case involved an Iranian asylum-seeker who claimed to be 15 and attended school in Ipswich for six weeks, until being outed as an adult in 2018. He was only removed from the school after parents of his upset classmates threatened a boycott. He attended the school with children as young as 11. Other students reportedly found pictures of the man on Facebook, where he was bearded, had a hairy chest and held a bottle of beer in his hand.

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The Home Office is investigating the Coventry case, involving the student from Gambia, "urgently," the Sun reported. A government spokesperson cited by the tabloid acknowledged that the asylum system is "broken and in drastic need of reform."

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