A six-year-old girl has been left crying for her big brother after their heartbroken British grandparents were forced to “wrench them apart”.
Ian and Linda Simpson are preparing to fly back to the UK from China with their little granddaughter, Alice, after signing an out-of-court agreement.
They agreed to pay more than £9,000 to the family of Alice and her brother Jack’s Chinese mum – who murdered their son, Michael Simpson, last year.
But the homecoming is filled with heartache – because they have reluctantly had to make the devastating choice to leave eight-year-old Jack behind.
The youngster’s Chinese maternal grandparents, who live in the northwestern city of Nanzhang, are reportedly refusing to give him up.
And while Alice has been remarkably brave since being separated from her beloved brother, she has at times been in tears asking for him.
“We are overjoyed to bring Alice home but it breaks our hearts to leave Jack behind.
“Linda cried and asked me, ‘How can we wrench them apart?’,” Ian, now married to a second wife, told The Mail on Sunday at the weekend.
He added that, in the end, he and his ex-partner had to choose between bringing Alice home or walking away without either of their grandchildren.
They could have “lost them both for ever”, he said.
He continued: “Alice has never been apart from Jack and it’s obvious she misses him badly.
“She has been amazingly brave but there have been moments when she has been in tears asking for her brother.”
Ian and Linda, who continue to fight for custody of Jack, had reportedly been warned they might not see the children again if they didn’t make the choice.
On Boxing Day, as the youngsters’ maternal gran Hu De Xiu packed a bag up for Alice, a devastated Jack wept and pleaded with her: “Don’t let Alice go.”
The kids’ dad Michael was killed in March 2017 when he was stabbed by his estranged wife, Weiwei Fu, in a jealous rage at his Shanghai apartment.
The Next executive, who had met and married Fu after moving to China before they split up, had “planned a university education” for Alice and Jack.
He had taken the youngsters around the world and gave them a “western view”, retired business project consultant Ian said in an interview earlier this year.
He added at the time said: “We lost our son and feel we can’t lose the children as well.
“They’re too precious… We can give them the life Michael wanted for them. We’d make sure they stayed in touch with their Chinese relatives.”
Ian and Linda, who have spent more than £100,000 in their bid to get custody of Alice and Jack, spent time with their grandson in Nanzhang last week.
They played with him at a hotel restaurant, as Fu’s parents looked on.
Devastatingly, the two children’s Chinese relatives have allegedly told them that their parents are working abroad and that Michael abandoned them.
But in reality, the father was stabbed to death by their mother, who is now serving life in prison after being locked up for murder this summer.
Ian, from Hartest, Suffolk, said earlier this year: “That’s the lie they’ve been given but they’ll find out eventually. It’s terrible.”
He added that the kids were living in a “one-bedroom flat containing five people, including their grandparents and cousin, in a small town”.
Ian and Linda launched a heartbreaking battle for custody, which saw Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt raise the case on a visit to Beijing in July.
Members of the public also raised thousands to help the family.
The grandparents, who were supported by the Foreign Office, ended up paying £9,200 in cash to Fu’s relatives so they could bring Alice back to the UK.
They have reached an agreement that there will be weekly phone calls between their two grandchildren, as well as annual visits, according to the MoS.
And they are determined to keep up their fight until Jack can join them in Britain.