A GROUP of pupils known as the Glasgow Girls have been successful in securing the release from detention of a family of asylum seekers.

Christina Gorbachova, a pupil at Drumchapel High School in Glasgow, and her parents, Andre and Tanya from Belarus, were detained last month by immigration officers, pending removal from the UK.

They were taken to Dungavel detention centre in Lanarkshire before being transferred to Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire.

However, it emerged yesterday that lobbying by the pupils, who were honoured recently for opposing Immigration Service dawn raids, has resulted in the family's being released and allowed to return to Glasgow pending a review of their case by the Home Office.

The Gorbachova family came to the UK three years ago after the father suffered persecution. The Belarussian regime under president Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been strongly criticised for human rights abuses and this week introduced new legislation to stop criticism of the government ahead of elections next year.

Christina, 15, said last night the family were delighted to be back in Glasgow.

"It was not a pleasant experience for the family, but we are pleased to be back among friends. I can also go back to school and sit exams, " she said.

The campaigning teenagers were honoured for running the most effective and imaginative political campaign of 2005 after they took on the Home Office over the fate of fellow pupils facing deportation.

Jennifer McCarron, Rosa Salih, and Evelina Siwak accepted the prize for Public Campaign at The Herald Diageo Politician of the Year Awards in front of 500 people from the worlds of politics, entertainment, sport and business at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh.

Amal Azzudin, a pupil at the school who campaigned to help free the family, said last night: "We spoke to MPs and asked for help and now the family are out. We are having a party tonight for the family. Everyone is ecstatic, and Christina was even able to sit her art prelim at school."

The girls began their work in the spring, when the Murselaj family in Scotstoun faced deportation to Kosovo after their asylum applications failed.

However, it was their efforts on behalf of the Vucaj family - three children and their parents who were taken from their home in a dawn raid in September - that gained them national attention.

Many pupils at the school were shocked at the treatment of the family who were later deported, and the girls took the case to Holyrood and Jack McConnell, the first minister.

Mr McConnell bowed to pressure and said that he would seek a protocol with the Home Office over dawn raids.

He was later rebuffed by the Home Office over "special treatment" for Scotland, although minor changes to the UK system are in the pipeline.

President Lukashenka was elected in 1994 on a platform promising to end corruption in the newly-independent postSoviet state of Belarus.

However, last year Amnesty International expressed concern over human rights abuses in Belarus and called for an end to the practice of detaining people solely for the peaceful exercise of their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and association, but this week the parliament of Belarus passed a law intended to stop mass protests ahead of the 2006 presidential elections.

An African family who won the legal right to challenge a deportation order received confirmation last night it had been cancelled.

The Daly family, who live in Glasgow, were due to be deported on Friday and are being held at Yarl's Wood. A bail hearing is planned for tomorrow.