A social worker tasked with monitoring how a Malawian child adopted by Madonna is progressing has been refused permission to leave the African country.

The official was supposed to make two trips to the UK to visit Madonna's home, but the Malawian government reportedly cancelled the trips and media reports said a different official will now visit.

According to the Reuters news agency, a Malawian government minister named Kate Kainja told the African newspaper Malawi News that the official provisionally headed to the UK, Penstone Kilembe, had "personalised" the issue.

"We have already contacted Madonna that someone else and not Kilembe will come to assess her, because we feel Mr Kilembe personalised the whole issue when other people can go," the minister reportedly said.

Mr Kilembe added: "What this means is that the whole adoption process may crumble and David [may be] sent back to his village."

Madonna was granted a temporary custody order of one-year-old David Banda last October after meeting the boy in a Malawian orphanage.

In an interview with the BBC's Newsnight programme last year, Madonna reacted to the media scrum which followed her to Africa by defending her decision to adopt the young boy.

She said: "I was told … that from the day that he was left in the orphanage he was not visited by any extended family members and that's really why I became interested in him."

06/08/2007 13:49:25