A number of students from Kenya have been denied UK visas for a church trip to celebrate the centenary of a UK diocese with which the group has long-standing links.
The Anglican Church of Kenya group was planning to visit Chelmsford in Essex to mark 100 years since the start of the diocese. Of the 20 people who applied for UK visas, eight were turned down because of fears they may not return to Kenya at the end of their trip and four are still waiting to hear the outcome of their applications, The Church Times reported.
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, sad he was “angry” and “a bit ashamed” about the treatment of the group by the UK authorities.
He said: "The people whose visas have been accepted are the bishops, and the principal of the college, but the theological-college students - who, by definition as students in a poor country, don't have means or money, because they can't demonstrate any sort of income - their visa has been refused because it is thought they wouldn't return."
Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he would contact Home Secretary Theresa May to complain about the decision and appeal for it to be reversed. He said that this kind of behaviour was “deeply damaging” to Britain’s reputation and he pointed out that the young Kenyans who had been refused UK visas would one day be leaders of their country.
The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases and applications were judged by the rules and the personal and financial circumstance of those applying.