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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Appeal for Malawian children visa
David and Elizabeth Lee
The couple say they can offer the children a better life
A London couple have appealed over the denial of UK visas for their orphaned Malawian niece and nephew.

David and Elizabeth Lee want to become guardians for Bruno Kajombo, eight, and his sister Stella, nine, who are the children of Elizabeth's sister.

Their father died of Aids in 2003 and their mother in a car crash this year.

They say they have had visas for the two children refused by the Foreign Office because the department says they still have relatives in Malawi.

'Very strong case'

Mr Lee told BBC London: "We are the only ones financially able to look after the children. We offer a loving family, a situation which they need."

He said both he and his wife had lived in Malawi and were sensitive to the culture, the language and the food.

Mrs Lee said: "This was supposed to be on compassionate grounds. They told me the visa people would definitely give me a visa for the children."

The British High Commission in Malawi opposed the visas on the grounds there were relatives still in Malawi who were able to look after the children.

Bruno and Stella Kajombo
The children lost their mother this year

They are currently being cared for by their uncle, even though Mr Lee said the uncle admitted the couple could provide the children with a better life in the UK.

Local Labour MP Joan Ruddock (Lewisham and Deptford) said she believed the couple had a "very strong case".

She told BBC London: "My initial response from the officials at the Foreign Office in terms of the refusal of the visa was on the grounds there was a relative in Malawi who could look after the children, and there was also a question about Elizabeth Lee's work."

Ms Ruddock said those questions had been answered.

According to documents seen by BBC London, the British High Commission said had issues with the fact Mrs Lee was paid by a Manchester-based company despite living in London.

But in response the Lees wrote that Mrs Lee's employers - an agency which encourages young mothers to return to work - did all its administration from Manchester.

The Foreign Office said it would not comment on individual cases.

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