Baby interrogated by US embassy after terrorism mix-up

Harvey Kenyon-Cairns was mistakenly identified as a terrorist in visa application

The US embassy in London, England. Photograph: Google Maps

A three-month-old baby was summoned to the US embassy in London, England, for an interview after his grandfather mistakenly identified him as a terrorist.

Harvey Kenyon-Cairns had been due to fly to Orlando in Florida, the US, for his first overseas holiday, until his grandfather, Paul Kenyon, made the error on a visa waiver form.

On the part of the Esta form which asks: “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?”, Mr Kenyon ticked “yes” instead of “no” for Harvey.

He only learned of his error when his grandson’s travel to the US 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 family’s scheduled 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 Mr 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 Mr Kenyon an extra £3,000 (about €3,500), as the new visa didn’t arrive in time for the family’s flights.

He flew out to his holiday villa in Florida with his wife Cathy on the scheduled date, but Harvey and his parents, Faye Kenyon-Cairns and John Cairns, 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 Mr Kenyon.

He added: “If you were a terrorist, I suspect you’d not be ticking ‘yes’ on the Esta form anyway.”

Guardian service