Author: CARLY READ
AN asylum seeker from Iran who posed a a 15-year-old GCSE pupil has been exposed as an adult in his 30s, sparking a Home Office investigation.
The 6ft 1ins man spent six weeks as a Year 11 pupil at Stoke High School in Ipswich, Suffolk, before students became suspicious of his stubble. Pupils then took to Facebook to find the profile of the man, who has not been named, and discovered photos of him swigging beer with a full beard. Today, the Home Office confirmed the pupil has finally been assessed as being over the age of 18. The man, who speaks broken English, presented himself as an unaccompanied child when he travelled to Britain via Germany without any paperwork.
He was placed in a detention centre where his age was believed to have been 15.
The lack of a medical examination – which are not automatic and are only done when the child’s appearance “very strongly suggests that they are significantly over 18 years of age” – meant he was assigned to welcoming foster parents and put in the school.
Outraged parents withdrew their children from the school in protest, which forced the staff to remove the asylum seeker from the class.
The school now faces a safeguarding probe after parents claimed their children had been put in danger by the presence of a man posing as a boy.
The stepfather of a girl in the same class as the pupil said he had complained to Suffolk Police about the man “posing as a pupil” in his stepdaughter’s class.
He said: “They logged my call and advised me to go back to the school and demand what action they were going to take.
“I ended up speaking to this teacher who said that the Facebook picture of the boy was a case of mistaken identity.
“The teacher actually threatened that all the parents who were jumping on the bandwagon could face legal action because complaining about the pupil was a criminal offence. He was basically calling all the parents bullies.
“I explained that I was sorry if the pupil turned out to be a genuine 15-year-old, but that parents had a responsibility for the safeguarding of children in their care, as should the school.
“The teacher told me that he had children himself and all the paperwork and been looked at for this person and had been passed by the Home Office. I was absolutely livid and was trying to behave myself.”
He added: “He was so ignorant and not really listening to what I was saying. I wanted to kick him up the backside and tell him not to be so naïve. My last words to him were, ‘You have not heard the last about this.”
The Home Office, which confirmed the man was an adult, said: “We are fully committed to safeguarding children and are looking into the circumstances of this case to understand how it was handled.
“Age-disputed cases remain a challenging area of work in which no single assessment technique, or combination of techniques, is likely to determine an individual’s age with precision.
“In the absence of clear and credible documentary evidence, Home Office staff must rely on physical appearance and demeanour to make an initial assessment on whether a person claiming to be a child is under 18.”
A spokesman added: “If an individual is assessed to be under 18, but subsequent concerns about their age are raised – for example by a school – we will act quickly to reconsider the case.”
contacted the Home Office which confirmed the man is an adult.