Given the timescale, sending letters is out of the question, but now emails are getting this automated response:
"Thank you for sending an email to Phil Woolas, Member of Parliament for Oldham East and Saddleworth.
Due to the volume of email we are receiving, we can no longer accept casework electronicially. Please write to Phil at: Lord Chambers 11 Church Lane Oldham OL1 3AN
If your query is urgent, please telephone our constituency office on 0161 624 4248.
If your correspondence relates to the Home Office, please forward your correspondence to:
Home Office Direct Communications Unit 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF
With all best wishes and many thanks for your understanding in this matter.
Office of Phil Woolas MP Oldham East and Saddleworth"
You'll notice that the Home Office contact is a surface mail address. There is an email ( mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) on the Home Office contacts page next to this address, but it also informs you that We aim to answer your enquiry - whether by email or letter - within 20 working days. That's not very helpful, as we're only working in a timescale of 24-48 hours here. Elizabeth was taken by border control officials on Monday.
Ok, we'll phone on that constituency number. Except that
"House of Commons rules mean that Phil can only deal with enquiries from people who live in Oldham East and Saddleworth." (says his website). So if you ring the number to plead Elizabeth's case but don't live in the area, it's against the rules for Phil Woolas to do anything about it.
I can understand that government ministers don't want to be deluged with email just because it's easy to fire one off, and some bods on the internet have put a campaign together. But the net effect of all this is that there's no way for the general public to get in touch with Phil Woolas within the necessary time-frame. In 20 days time Elizabeth could be in a Ugandan jail and her infant children taken from her and put in an orphanage. A sympathetic letter from the Home Office will be worse than useless by then.
Update: Just got this:
Hi folks, Just a plea for everyone to write first class to Phil Woolas today - as you may have already read, they are not accepting emails.
Rt Hon Phil Woolas Home Office Direct Communications Unit 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF
So, don't forget to include Elizabeth's HO Ref: 1147269/5
please remind Phil Woolas that Elizabeth was only following his suggestion of the 6th August to gather medical reports and more information but weren't given the time to do it.
you could mention the manner in which Elizabeth and the children were taken and the bullying tactics of the Immigration Officials. They said, in front of the children, 'if you don't come quietly Elizabeth, we'll handcuff you and carry you down the stairs'. They also put E and the children in separate vehicles.
Don't forget to send a copy to Alan Milburn (you can do that by email) Elizabeth's flight is booked for 8pm tomorrow night. In the meantime, we are hopeful that we have found a solicitor.