Prue Leith: ‘I worried about my daughter finding her birth mother’

Prue Leith is telling me what a bad mother she was to her daughter, Li-Da Kruger, growing up. I don’t believe her for a second, though she lists off reams of apparent offences. “I never stood on any touchlines, I never went to any swimming galas,” says Leith. “I once went to watch Li-Da rowing in a school competition and stood in a wet muddy field in the freezing rain with the wind howling, thinking about nothing other than a gin and tonic and how I was never going to do this again.” The Bake Off judge and restaurateur hoots with laughter. “So I’m not a good mother!”

On our three-way Zoom call, Kruger, now in her mid-40s and a film-maker, smiles and shakes her head. They have been thinking a lot about their relationship lately, while making a new documentary, Prue Leith: Journey With my Daughter. In it, they return to Cambodia, where Kruger was born, in an attempt to trace her relatives and learn more about her life before she was adopted by Leith and her late husband Rayne.

The couple adopted Kruger, their second child, at the age of one (they also had a son, Daniel). Kruger was a sickly baby, airlifted out of Phnom Penh shortly before the city fell to the genocidal Khmer Rouge. She had a loving, privileged childhood, but almost everyone in her life – including her family – was white.

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