Preacher denies child trafficking

An evangelical preacher who claims he has helped infertile women conceive "miracle babies" yesterday denied running an international child trafficking ring.

Gilbert Deya, 52, is wanted by police in Kenya following the disappearance of dozens of babies from hospitals in Nairobi. The self-styled archbishop says the women who come to him receive children as a "gift from God".

But DNA tests on 20 babies taken into care in Africa, and one in Britain, showed that none of them was related to their "parents".

Deya is now fighting an extradition request from the Kenyan authorities and is under investigation by the Metropolitan Police over allegations of child trafficking between Britain and Kenya.

Concerns were raised in this country following reports that several babies had been "born" to British women after they visited back-street clinics in the Kenyan capital.

Last month, Deya's British-born wife Mary, who claims she gave birth through the power of prayer, appeared in a Kenyan court accused of stealing two babies from the Punami Hospital, where staff are also implicated in baby trafficking.

She was earlier found to be the biological mother of only one of nine children taken from her home in Nairobi.

Dozens of couples in Africa have since come forward in an attempt to find their missing children, many of them claiming that hospital staff told them their babies had died after birth.

Speaking in Glasgow yesterday, where he has appointed a lawyer to fight the extradition request, Deya said he would not receive a fair trial in Africa.

He also produced a pregnant woman as "proof" of the power of his prayers. Deon Dakkins-Scott, from London, said she was nine months' pregnant because of Deya's intervention. She said she became pregnant within a week of receiving his blessing even though her fallopian tubes had been removed.

"I have had urine tests which say I am not pregnant and doctors tell me I am having a phantom pregnancy. But I know the baby is inside my tummy and I am a pregnant woman about to give birth."

Deya said: "I have been judged by the media as a child trafficker, which is a slave trade. Miracles have happened. God has used me, and God cannot use a criminal.

"I have never taken women from the UK to the back streets of Nairobi. These are useless allegations. I have been a star preacher on television. How can I go to the maternity hospital with my wife and steal a baby? My wife and I are innocent."

The Charity Commission has frozen the accounts of the Gilbert Deya Ministries, based in Deptford, south London. The charity, which runs churches in London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and Manchester, had an income of £885,000 in 2002.