Dozens of jobless Romanians, who were rounded up and sent home as part of a government crackdown on immigrants "taking the mickey", have vowed to return to London just eight days after their eviction.
For the past month, Viorica Sandhu and her daughter, Sonia, have lived in Park Lane in London’s Mayfair.
It is one of the world’s most expensive streets, and its residents typically live in multi-million-pound town houses, enjoy supper at the Dorchester hotel and shop for £250,000 supercars in the local showrooms.
Not the Sandhus. They and about 60 fellow Romanians, most of them women, lived in a squalid encampment on a patch of grass in the shadow of Marble Arch on Park Lane’s central reservation.
Eight days ago, the police moved in, and the Sandhus were moved out.
The Home Office bought them tickets, at taxpayers’ expense, for coaches and planes home.
Viorica, Sonia and 22 fellow Romanians, who had made a living begging in the street, took up the offer and promptly left Britain.
Their removal last Sunday evening was heralded as a great success. The Park Lane Roma had been blamed for a surge in petty crime and begging in London’s West End and “creating havoc”.
The clampdown by the authorities demonstrated that they would no longer tolerate immigrants “taking the Mickey”. The reality, The Telegraph can disclose, is somewhat different.
Last week, we tracked down almost half of the 24 Roma who had been removed from Park Lane at home, and we found that they plan to return to London as soon as possible because begging here is lucrative compared with what they can earn in Romania.
In effect, the Home Office has paid for them to go home for a brief holiday. What is more, the Government, hostage to the European Union’s laws on freedom of movement, is powerless to stop them coming back.
“I will definitely go back, no doubt about it. From there I can send money back to my children and we can actually make a living. Here we have no job, no car, no nothing,” explained Sonia Sandhu, 36, a mother of eight.
The next time, she is threatening to return with her children. The family live in near-abject poverty in Lisa, a village 90 miles from Bucharest.
Fifteen people live in their two-storey house. Children and dogs play in the street, and horses pulling carts trundle up and down.
The Sandhus arrived home on Tuesday after a three-day coach trip from London, having been given food and blankets for the journey.
Only a few days earlier, Viorica Sandhu, 70, had been photographed in Park Lane, dressed in a purple coat and looking miserable during the police raid.
She may have appeared unhappy but London, she explained, was “very nice”, adding: “We stayed at Marble Arch. We got food and shelter and bathroom. There is no living here in Romania.”
Rumours abound of Romanian beggars earning £100 a day in London.
Viorica and Sonia said they each could earn about £40 a day, targeting wealthy Arabs and other Muslims who shop in the area and for whom giving to beggars is a central religious tenet.
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