Wrong tick in box about three-month-old’s terror activities leads to 10-hour detour, missed flights and £3,000 bill
A three-month old baby was summoned to the US embassy in London for an interview after his grandfather mistakenly identified him as a terrorist.
On the part of the Esta form which reads “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?” Kenyon ticked yes instead of no.
He only learned of his error when his grandson’s travel was refused. “I couldn’t believe that they couldn’t see it was a genuine mistake and that a three-month-old baby would be no harm to anyone,” said the 62-year-old.
The baby was taken from his home in Poynton, Cheshire, to the embassy in Grosvenor Square, London, to be questioned by officials. The round trip took about 10 hours, longer than the nine-and-a-half-hour flight time from Manchester to Orlando.
“Baby Harvey was good as gold for the interview and never cried once. I thought about taking him along in an orange jumpsuit, but thought better of it,” said Kenyon. “They didn’t appear to have a sense of humour over it at all and couldn’t see the funny side.
“He’s obviously never engaged in genocide, or espionage, but he has sabotaged quite a few nappies in his time, though I didn’t tell them that at the US embassy.”
The mess-up cost Kenyon an extra £3,000 ($3,800), as the new visa didn’t arrive in time for the family’s flights.
He flew out to his holiday villa with his wife, Cathy, 57, and his granddaughter Ava on the scheduled date, but Harvey and his parents, Faye Kenyon-Cairns, 27, and her partner John Cairns, 31, had to fly out separately a few days later.
“It was a very expensive mistake, but I was hoping the US embassy would realise that it was just a simple error without us having to jump through all the hoops,” said Kenyon.
He added: “If you were a terrorist, I suspect you’d not be ticking yes on the Esta form anyway.”