Minister for Africa monitoring ‘distressing’ Ken Spooner case

Justice for Ken: Ken Spooner is still waiting for his children to be returned home
Justice for Ken: Ken Spooner is still waiting for his children to be returned home

A senior MP has promised to continuing pressing Zambian authorities over the ‘extremely distressing’ case of MK resident, Ken Spooner.

Mr Spooner has been fighting to have his two boys, Devlan and Caelan, returned home from the African country for four-and-a-half years.

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The children, who were aged just four and two at the time, were abducted by their mother, Zanetta Nyendwa, in October 2008. Miss Nyendwa took them on a family holiday, promising to be back in Britain within weeks – but has never returned.

Last month, Government Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds wrote to Milton Keynes North MP, Mark Lancaster, saying he would be asking Consular staff in Lusaka to contact Zambian authorities for an update on the case.

Mr Spooner is currently waiting for judges in the African country to make a ruling on an appeal by the boys mother, Zanetta Nyendwa. It comes after Mr Spooner was awarded custody of Devlan and Caelan in September last year.

Zambian authorities originally rejected the validity of an English High Court Order demanding the children be returned home, but after a protracted legal battle awarded Mr Spooner custody of the children pending an appeal.

But despite that decision the children still remain with Miss Nyendwa.

Miss Nyendwa lodged an appeal more than a year ago, but the court has still not returned a verdict. It was expected the decision would take about three months.

In reply to a letter from Mr Lancaster, who has been looking into the case, Mr Simmonds wrote: ‘I was very sorry to hear that Mr Spooner is still waiting for the Zambian Supreme Court ruling on his ex-partner’s appeal for custody.

“I appreciate that this long separation from his children must be extremely distressing for Mr Spooner.”

But despite his assurance of support, Mr Simmonds’ hands are tied by the Government’s stance that it cannot be seen to interfere in the affairs of a sovereign state.

And his letter is reminiscent of one sent to Mr Lancaster by previous Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, in November 2011.

In that missive Mr Bellingham promised to raise Mr Spooner’s cause during a visit to Zambia.

He wrote: ‘Following the election of the new Zambian government I hope to visit Zambia in the near future and can assure you that I will bring Mr Spooner’s case to the attention of the authorities if it remains unresolved in court.’

But even then he added that he couldn’t guarantee that raising the case would make a difference.

The Citizen launched its ‘Justice for Ken’ campaign in 2010 and later submitted a petition to Westminster calling on the British Government to intervene in the case.

Mr Simmonds added: ‘Henry Bellingham raised the case with the Zambian Foreign Minister in November 2011 and expressed his hope that the case would progress swiftly through the Zambian judicial system...

‘I realise this must be extremely frustrating for Mr Spooner and I sincerely hope that Mr Spooner is soon reunited with his children’.