Romola Garai John Phillips/Getty Images

The actress branded the practice a “stain on our national character” as part of a solidarity campaign ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8.

Women involved include singer Charlotte Church, fashion designer Livia Firth, actresses Juliet Stevenson and Noma Dumezweni, historian Mary Beard and MP Stella Creasy.

Garai, who has a two-year-old daughter and recently appeared in Churchill’s Secret on ITV, said: “I feel so strongly that the UK has lost its right to call itself a country that protects and nurtures those fleeing persecution.

‘Set her free’: Romola Garai is campaigning against the detention of refugees

“The detention of women who seek asylum is a stain on our national character and I hope the 99 women campaign highlights the plight of these women and encourages the citizens of the UK to fight to win back our reputation as a country defined by compassion and generosity rather than cruelty and suspicion.”

The social media campaign, organised by Women for Refugee Women, involves actresses, activists, singers, directors, lawyers, politicians and artists. They have each taken a photograph of themselves holding a message of support with the Twitter hashtag Set Her Free. The campaign is inspired by the detention of 99 pregnant women at the Yarl’s Wood detention centre in 2014. Only nine of the women were eventually deported.

The charity is planning a protest outside the Home Office next Tuesday.

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