ONE of the Prime Minister’s key advisors has expressed his dismay at the way UK border officials treated a North-East asylum seeker when she was deported last week.

Elizabeth Kiwunga fled from Uganda, in east Africa, in 2002, where she claims she was raped and tortured by thugs loyal to her former husband’s political opponents.

After settling in Darlington, she won the support of the local community, who spent years campaigning for her to be granted the right to remain in the UK.

But Ms Kiwunga and her two British-born children were flown back to Uganda last week after being seized by operatives from the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

The family’s treatment during the switch has sparked anger from Sir Al Aynsley Green, the Children’s Commissioner, who has written to the agency’s chief executive, Lin Homer, to complain.

Sir Al said he was concerned that Ms Kiwunga’s children had apparently been separated from her during the journey.

He was responding to reports from North-East MEP Stephen Hughes that fouryear- old Hilary-Marie and baby John spent half an hour alone with UKBA officials while their distraught mother was taken in another vehicle.

Sir Al wrote: “I would be grateful if you could tell me why it was deemed appropriate that a four-year-old and a one-year-old be separated from their mother.

“In view of the fact that the older child has been described as being hysterical at being separated from her mother, I would like to know what justification the decision maker had for deciding on, or authorising, the separation.

“Does UKBA accept that such action could cause emotional harm to a small child, and how was this foreseeable risk balanced in deciding on the course of action taken?”

Ms Kiwunga’s children have suffered the terror and indignity of imprisonment since she was first taken from her Darlington home in 2007.

Hilary-Marie “celebrated” her third birthday in the confines of the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre.

Ms Kiwunga was arrested and detained for questioning for two hours on her arrival in the east African country.

The Reverend Sheilagh Williamson, who hosted the family in Darlington, and is in touch with Ms Kiwunga in Uganda, said she had been “terrified” by the ordeal.

Uganda’s capital, Kampala, has been gripped by political unrest recently, with 11 people killed during two days of rioting at the start of the month. Ms Kiwunga’s case won the backing of church leaders, Darlington MP Alan Milburn and North- East MEP Stephen Hughes.

Mr Hughes said last night: “I am ashamed of the way we in Britain deal with these issues.

“Elizabeth’s children were absolutely traumatised. It is totally inhumane.”

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said the organisation did not comment on individual cases, and that the Children’s Commissioner’s letter would be responded to in due course.