A CONTINENTAL campaign has been launched to persuade the parents of a four-month-old girl to bring her back to Harrow from Spain.

Baby Farah Afzal was taken to Barcelona by her parents Zainab Rasul, 30, and Mohammed Afzal, 38, in the middle of the night in mid-January after Harrow Council began care proceedings.

Mohammed Afzal, 38, took his four-month-old baby Farah from their home in Rayners Lane to Barcelona with wife Zainab Rasul
   
Zainab Rasul, 30, took her four-month-old baby Farah from their home in Rayners Lane to Barcelona with husband Mohammed Afzal

Council leader Councillor Susan Hall appealed to the thousands of Catalan football supporters attending Tuesday’s Champions League match between Barcelona FC and Manchester City at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium to help spread the message about little Farah’s welfare.

“My appeal is to those fans to keep their eyes open for baby Farah and her parents when they go home,” she said.

“The evidence we have suggests that the parents and baby Farah have been staying in a run-down area of Barcelona and we are worried for their welfare.

“What is important here is the safety of this child. The important thing is for the family to return to the UK so we can plan the best way ahead together.

“I appeal to Mohammed and Zainab to do what is best for their daughter and contact us so we can talk this through.”

News of Farah’s disappearance emerged when her grandfather Ali Rasul of Rayners Lane was jailed on January 31 for 28 days for contempt of court for lying under oath during a hearing concerning the tot at the High Court.

The four-month-old was taken by her parents on January 16 from the house Mr Rasul shares with wife Nazma and the baby’s paternal grandmother and the council confirmed the three took a 6.55am easyjet flight to Spain from Gatwick Airport.

Farah was made a ward of court the following day and the council won a court order forcing the grandparents to divulge to social services staff “all information relating to the whereabouts of the child”.

Sentencing judge, Mr Justice Keehan, wrote: “The local authority are involved because of concerns they have about the long-standing drug abuse of both parents.

“The child was permitted to live with her mother at the grandparents’ home on the basis that that may afford some degree of protection to the child, and she would not be exposed to drug taking by either one of her parents or that she would not be at risk of harm in their care if and when they were under the influence of drugs.”

Mr Rasul said in evidence he did not know his daughter and son-in-law were actually about to flee the country with his granddaughter when they left the house in the dead of night.

Mr Justice Keehan said: “The idea that this grandfather would be told by his daughter that they were visiting social workers at three o’clock in the morning is utterly absurd and totally incredible, and I conclude that the grandfather is lying.

“What has now come to light, and what he did not tell me, was that on Friday January 24, he arranged, by Western Union money transfer, to send the sum of £500 to his daughter in Barcelona in Spain.

“The grandfather told me in evidence today that not only did he see his daughter leaving the house, he helped her fold the child’s buggy so that it could be placed in the taxi.

“I simply cannot believe and do not accept that if the grandfather did not know the child was in the car, the first thing he would have done on returning to the house was to look to see where the baby was.”

The judge wrote in his sentencing remarks: “I ask myself rhetorically: what reasons might he have for lying?

“There is, in my judgment, only one reason why he is lying, and that is to protect his daughter and to prevent their whereabouts being discovered and, most importantly of all, the baby, Farah, being returned to this jurisdiction.”

Police officers from the Child Abuse Investigation Command are investigating the alleged abduction. There have been no arrests and enquiries continue.